Microsoft fights Blu-ray Disc exclusives with Xbox Live content

Microsoft announced at CES the addition of new content providers for its Xbox Live online service. Later this month, select television shows from ABC and Disney and movies from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) will be available for Xbox 360 users in the U.S.

Included in the ABC and Disney family are content from the ABC Television Network, ABC Family, ABC News, Disney Channel and Toon Disney. Upcoming shows from the network include Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, Hannah Montana and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.

"As a company dedicated to providing consumers with a variety of high-quality entertainment and news content that they can view at their convenience, regardless of time, place or platform, we are very excited to bring our programming to Xbox LIVE members," said Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group. "This new agreement will not only provide incremental viewing opportunities, but also provides a wealth of promotional opportunities to further awareness of our shows and brands."

Beefing up the movie offerings on Xbox Live will be MGM, bringing with it an extensive catalog of films such as Terminator, Silence of the Lambs and The Usual Suspects.

"The Video Store on Xbox Live Marketplace has proven to be very successful, and we are excited that MGM will be a partner in 2008," said Jim Packer, co-president of Worldwide Television at MGM. "At MGM we are always looking for new ways to reach our broad audience, and partnering with Microsoft allows us to make our legendary library available to the millions of Xbox LIVE members here in the U.S."

The latest move in expanding the selection on Xbox Live may be viewed by some as Microsoft’s attempt to sidestep the ongoing high-definition format war. As a backer of HD DVD, Microsoft may be protecting its Xbox 360 users with the HD DVD add-on by providing Blu-ray Disc-exclusive content on the Xbox Live service.

Disney movies such as High School Musical and MGM films such as Rocky are only on Blu-ray Disc in 1080p. Through Xbox Live Marketplace, however, users can view those movies in high-definition, albeit in only 720p.

"Disney-ABC Television Group and MGM are two of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, and this announcement helps continue to evolve and diversify the content offering on Xbox LIVE," said Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. "The ability to offer such great content in high definition further expands Microsoft's commitment to connected entertainment with Xbox 360."

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

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