Online entertainment consumption is on the rise in the United States, so it's no surprise tech companies have reinvigorated their age-old quest to merge online entertainment with your home television. In March, 181 million U.S. Internet users watching an average of 21.7 hours of online video, according to metrics firm comScore. The previous year, comScore reported 174 million American Internet users were watching an average of 14.8 hours.
There's practically no end to the number of devices that can deliver online entertainment to the living room including the PlayStation 3, Apple TV, Roku set-top box, and a host of Internet-connected televisions featuring services such as Google TV and Yahoo Connected TV widgets. There are also high expectations for a rumored high-definition television set from Apple, and other companies such as Canonical and Lenovo may soon offer living room entertainment products as well.
If Microsoft does offer a subsidized Xbox, it would end up costing you a little bit more to get the cheaper console. Best Buy currently sells the 4GB Xbox with Kinect sensor for $300, plus you can buy a two-year subscription to Xbox Live Gold for $60 per year for a total of $420 over 24 months. The purported subsidized Xbox 360, as reported, would set you back about an extra $39 at $459 for the two years. And don't forget subscriptions to services such as Netflix, MLB.TV, and Hulu Plus will also set you back a few bucks per month, raising the cost of an Xbox entertainment center even higher.
Costs aside, it's clear more and more people are turning to the Internet for on-demand entertainment consumption, and tech companies are looking to fill that void with consoles, set-top boxes, and Internet-capable televisions.
Microsoft said last June that it would support the Xbox 360 until 2016.
Next-generation PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles are also expected before the end of 2013.