Microsoft's plans to add television content to the Xbox 360 just took a major step forward.
The company unveiled an extensive partner list Wednesday, announcing that nearly 40 global content providers will stream programming through the game console starting this year. Included in the list are heavy cable hitters Comcast, HBO and Verizon FiOS.
Details on how the integration will take place are still pretty scarce, but a few things are certain (and near certain).Users who want to use the Xbox TV service will need to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription. The program will be rolled out to 20 different countries this holiday season, including the U.K., Spain, Italy and Germany.
In addition to Comcast and Verizon, cable provider Rogers on Demand will provide programming for Canadian owners. Also on board are TV networks including Bravo, Syfy and the BBC, as well as online video providers such as YouTube, Crackle and DailyMotion.
"Today's announcement is a major step toward realizing our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy," Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, said in a statement.
What you shouldn't expect is for the 360 to stream all content available on the cable systems. Comcast says it will only provide access to its On-Demand services and not live TV. Verizon's jumping in a bit more thoroughly, saying customers will be able to view "popular live TV channels" through the console.
Both integrations will be supported by Kinect, however. That means users will be able to bypass the remote and instead use gesture and voice commands to select programs.
Also, not all of the networks will be available in all countries. U.S. viewers, for instance, won't be able to watch the BBC feed or Germany's ZDF.
Finally, the wide variety of providers won't give you free access to programming you don't already have, either. To watch content from any pay provider, such as Comcast or HBO, you'll need to subscribe separately to that service — just like you do currently with Netflix or Hulu.