November 30, 2011, 7:47 AM — Remember all that talk about live TV on your Xbox 360? Well the time has come. FiOS now lets Xbox 360 owners sign up for the service, though it isn't actually live yet.
New FiOS customers can sign up online and it's a pretty great deal. TV, phone and 35/35 Mbps internet for $89/month (plus taxes and fees and you should probably ask how much that adds to the monthly cost). That price is locked in for two years, plus you get one year of Xbox Live Gold service and a copy of Xbox Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (that's the original Halo updated for the Xbox 360). Makes me wish I wasn't an existing FiOS customer, but I am. That means I can get the service added by making a call to FiOS. There is apparently no extra charge, though you'll need an Xbox Live Gold account.
Initially you'll have access to 26 channels via the Xbox. Kotaku managed to wrangle a full list out of someone. Seventeen of the channels will be in HD, including the stuff you really care about (HBO, HBO2, Comedy Central, CNN, etc). None of the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX) are included. Nor is AMC; sorry, fans of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. Of course you won't get channels like HBO or Cinemax unless you're subscribed to them. In fact that seems to apply to all the offered channels. If you have a basic tier of FiOS and don't normally receive some of these channels, you won't get them on the Xbox either.
But hey, it's a start. We're a FiOS household and we currently pay $10/month for a second cable box in the office. There's an Xbox 360 in there already. If eventually the service gets robust enough that we can replace that second cable box and save $120/year it'd really add some value to our Xbox Live Gold subscription. We also have a multi-room DVR; if the Xbox/FiOS app could access content on a connected DVR, it'd be super. That would require, I assume, going back and re-working the DVR to provide Slingbox-like functionality. (I admit, I'm out of my element here.) While they were at it maybe they could pipe content on our DVRs to our tablets too. But let's not get too far off topic.
At launch, this sounds like a service that'll be geeky fun for a few minutes since it should be controllable via Kinect. Talking to and waving your hands at the Xbox to find something to watch will be fun, right? We're in the future now! I do think the service will be hampered by being limited to live TV and having no DVR functionality. Doesn't everyone time-shift TV these days? There's no mention in the press release of On Demand content, either.
So you'll be watching whatever is currently on, just like your grandparents did. (Grandparents? Who am I kidding? When I was a kid we got 2 stations via a giant antennae on our roof.)
But I'll say again, it's a start. I hope to see more deals like this come to fruition on other consoles and with other cable providers. And I hope that FiOS and Microsoft continue to build out their offerings. Given the outrageous sums we pay for cable TV we should be able to watch it wherever and whenever we want.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.