Xbox revealed its next-generation console today, Xbox One, featuring live TV integration and two big announcements to blur the lines between television and social gaming. “Until now the television viewing experience has been a one way experience, but that’s about to change,” explained entertainment chief Nancy Tellem. “Only on Xbox, will TV become social.”
For starters, Xbox One will integrate with cable, satellite or IPTV services to become the voice-controlled entertainment hub of your living room:
The new “OneGuide” is a discovery guide for watching TV, including personalization and “trending shows” that are popular in the Xbox community:
A new “snap” feature enables viewers — or users, viewsers? — to do two things at once, such as watching TV and Skyping with friends, or watching a movie while playing a game:
And it all ties into SmartGlass, Xbox’s second-screen app.
But the big announcements were focused on redefining the act of watching TV from a passive to an active experience — mostly on the first screen. Steven Spielberg will executive-produce an original “Halo” live-action television series at the “intersection where technology and mythmaking meet,” Spielberg said. Xbox revealed few details, only to say the “premium” series will engage viewers as active participants in the story.
Xbox also announced a deal with the NFL to “deliver the ultimate interactive NFL television experiences.” Again, details were light, but live NFL games will merge with a real-time stats, a social fantasy game, live video chat via Skype, second-screen experiences on SmartGlass and “player-worn technology.” Microsoft called it a “multiyear, landmark partnership.”
As we’ve said several times before, Xbox is TV’s biggest social network, yet it’s only lightly experimented with social and interactive features around TV. With Xbox One, it looks like these experiments are becoming big-time business opportunities. As far as a launch date, Microsoft would only say Xbox One will be available by the end of the year.
You can see videos, photos and details on Xbox’s site here.