David Bloom is a Deadline contributor
Two weeks before its next-generation game console hits stores, Microsoft made a big last-minute push today to emphasize the entertainment capabilities of the Xbox One, unveiling 19 online video-app providers for the machine in the U.S. They include the NFL, ESPN, Netflix and Hulu Plus, a number of which are already on the current-gen Xbox 360’s Xbox Live Gold online service.
In press briefings and one of two blog posts that launched this morning, the company emphasized the Xbox One’s entertainment providers. A second blog post talked up the gee-whiz tech capabilities of the Xbox One, such as its ability to recognize users by voice and face and to understand voice commands to seamlessly control and switch between games, online video services, live TV feeds from a cable set-top box, Internet searches, and an online program guide.
In the U.S., the video provider list includes Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, CWTV, ESPN, FOX NOW, FXNOW, HBO GO (listed as “coming soon”), Hulu Plus, Machinima, MUZU TV, Netflix, Redbox Instant by Verizon, Target Ticket, TED, The NFL on Xbox One, Twitch, Univision Deportes, Verizon FiOS TV and VUDU. The provider lists for a dozen other countries that also will roll out in the first wave of sales are shorter, and vary substantially from country to country.
Some of the machine’s capabilities are indeed impressive, like the Xbox One’s integration of live NFL game statistics with a user’s fantasy football teams, displaying scoring updates for a user’s team members on a small portion of the TV screen as they happen.
The console also will feature several Microsoft-owned services, such as Skype, the online-storage service SkyDrive, web browser Internet Explorer and fitness, video and music sites. Not in evidence yet are the interactive TV programs in many genres promised by Nancy Tellem last May at the Xbox unveiling. Tellem, a former CBS executive, now presides over Microsoft Studios’ efforts to create innovative video programming for the Xbox One.
The Xbox One rolls out November 22, a week before Black Friday and a week after Sony’s competing PS4 console debuts at a price $100 less than the Xbox One’s $499 cost. Regardless of the higher price, most major retailers say they are sold out of their Day One allotments of the console.
Microsoft also will begin featuring demonstrations of the Xbox One dashboard and opportunities to play one of the machine’s launch titles, the Microsoft-made Forza Motorsport 5 racing game, at its 75 retail stores beginning today.