The people behind Microsoft’s console say that owners now spend more time using it for entertainment than they do for multiplayer games. And today they hope to add momentum to their effort to turn the device into a home entertainment hub by introducing voice-controlled apps for Comcast’s Xfinity TV, HBO GO, and MLB.TV. XBox users who also subscribe to the services will be able to access Comcast’s On-Demand library, HBO programming, and a choice of home or away feeds of baseball game broadcasts (subject to local blackout restrictions).
The announcements come as Comcast fends off attacks from public interest advocates who say that its video transmissions to XBox users violate net neutrality rules. The time that Comcast cable customers spend watching video ported through the XBox doesn’t count against against their broadband data caps. “The Xbox 360 provides a number of video services to compete for customer dollars, yet only one service is not counted against the data cap — the one provided by Comcast,” says Public Knowledge CEO Gigi Sohn. “This is nothing less than a wake-up call to the Commission to show it is serious about protecting the Open Internet.” But Comcast says the critics are mistaken. Video feeds to its subscribers who have an XBox travel over Comcast’s traditional cable TV system, not the open Internet. “Your Xbox 360 essentially acts as an additional cable box for your existing cable service,” the company says. “As a result, our data usage threshold does not apply.”