Microsoft appears to be preparing themselves to step into the streaming media field alongside Apple, Netflix, Hulu, and other competing providers who have joined their ranks over the past year.
According to two anonymous sources quoted by Reuters in a report published on Monday, Microsoft is holding talks with media conglomerates in an attempt to license networks for a new subscription service they are planning to offer via Xbox, PC, and other devices.
And it seems the software giant is not intimidated by the amount of competition they will be facing. “We think the more competition the better, we will price and package it in such a way that we still make the dual revenue stream,” one of the sources told Reuters. “We could probably charge more for interactive advertising.”
The plans could mean a renewed marketing push for Media Center PCs. While the home computers featuring built-in tuners and DVR have been offered for years, they have waned in popularity recently.
“Windows Media Center is a lot more capable than Google TV. It is clearly the better product in everything but name. They should have called it Windows TV or Microsoft TV,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, after seeing demos of the two side-by-side earlier this month at Intel’s Developer Forum in San Francisco. “The battle going forward is not so much about the hardware, it’s about content. Microsoft’s platforms (Xbox Live and Windows Media Center) are more mature and capable than Google TV. But Microsoft now recognizes that Google is serious about getting into the living room. They want to prevent Google TV from getting a major beachhead in the home.”
As of the writing of this article, Microsoft had not yet commented officially on the news. In fact, it’s apparently so early in the game that Reuter’s sources said that it could be a year before the company’s talks with networks yield any new products offered to the public.
With Microsoft coming on board to the streaming arena with the likes of Apple and Google, we may start to see the industry providing some real competition for the cable and satellite providers of the world. These corporations are large and powerful enough that they could begin swaying the networks away from cable and satellite exclusivity. Then streaming services would finally be able to compete on a level playing field and “cord cutting” could become a real threat to Time Warner, DirectTV, Comcast, and the rest of today’s top TV programming providers.