"You're seeing it here first," Peter Moore, Microsoft's corporate VP-interactive entertainment business, announced to a crowd of hundreds of gamers at Manhattan nightclub Blvd last night, as he detailed how to initiate a download of the movie "ATL."
The content-downloading service, which launches Nov. 22, the first anniversary of Xbox 360, will include 1,000 hours of both standard and high-definition fare by the end of the year from companies including Warner Bros., Paramount, CBS, MTV Networks, Ultimate Fighting Championship and Turner's Nascar coverage and Adult Swim network. "How many of you like Adult Swim?" Mr. Moore asked. The crowd applauded.
Centerpiece of the digital home
The move toward downloading content through the Xbox is another step toward Microsoft's plan to make Xbox the centerpiece of the digital home. The content will be available on the Xbox Marketplace, a feature for internet-connected Xbox Live subscriptions.
Gamers will be able to buy TV shows, and movies will be available on a 24-hour rental basis. Pricing has not yet been determined. Microsoft has sold 6 million Xbox 360s and has about 4 million Xbox Live subscribers.
Microsoft threw the party in New York -- and is throwing a similar one in Seattle later this week -- to announce the launch of the service. Fashion designer Marc Ecko, New York Giants running back Amani Toomer and Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson all showed up for the event, along with a mostly male gamer audience that huddled around Xbox-equipped flat panel HDTVs to play "Gears of War," poker and arcade games. ("Dance Dance Revolution" was suspiciously quiet -- apparently not this crowd's thing.)