News Round-Up (III): ESPN-Xbox, Fox's Bitbop, Current TV

--ESPN, Microsoft in Exclusive Xbox Live Deal, Xbox Live GM Discusses Significance of Kinect for ITV
--Fox's Mobile VOD Service, Bitbop, Officially Launches
--Hollywood Reporter Details "Troubles" Facing Current TV

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been on the road the past few weeks, we are covering recent news stories in summary/round-up form. We apologize for any inconvenience to our readers. We will resume our regular format and publishing schedule tomorrow (Tuesday).

  • ESPN has announced an exclusive deal with Microsoft to bring a range of content and services to the Xbox 360. "Beginning in November," ESPN states in its press materials, "Xbox Live Gold members who receive their Internet connection from an affiliated service provider will have access to more than 3,500 live, global events every year via ESPN3.com--ESPN's 24/7 broadband sports network--including college basketball, college football and bowl games, MLB, NBA, international soccer, tennis including all four Grand Slam tournaments, golf majors and more. Fans will also be able to replay sports and events with full DVR control, pull up current scores on-demand while watching the game and easily switch between events and see what the most popular games are in the Xbox LIVE community in real time." Other content and features that will be available to Xbox Live Gold subscribers under the deal, according to ESPN, include 1) access to ESPN.com video clips and on-demand daily sports highlights; 2) integration with Microsoft's new Kinect (formerly known as Project Natal) gestural control technology; and 3) in-game social/interactive activities, such as polls, trivia and prediction questions. Meanwhile, in an interview with Fast Company, Xbox Live general manager, Marc Whitten, has shared some thoughts on the significance of Microsoft's new Kinect technology for the interactive TV space. "Interactive TV is...always, 'Here's this red button on the remote, you can go through these menus, go through this stuff.' All that has to go away," Whitten states. "If you really are going to nail this next level, it's going to be something like Kinect, something like Xbox Live, that allows you to stitch together that experience and make it natural. Imagine the feedback loop for Oprah. She's sitting there having a conversation. When she says something good, the audience sitting there laughs. She knows it and feels it. She knows that was a good moment. But you laugh in your living room too. And suddenly being able to use that as input to make the experience better is interesting." The full interview is available here.
  • Fox Mobile Group has announced the official US launch of Bitbop, the subscription-based mobile programming service it announced in March and beta-launched last month (see the articles published on itvt.com, March 25th and May 31st). The $9.99-per-month service, which features full-length TV shows on-demand (it is slated to offer full-length movies later this year), is initially available only on BlackBerry smartphones, though Fox Mobile says that trials of an Android version will begin within a couple of weeks.
  • The Hollywood Reporter's Andrew Wallenstein has published an article on the "troubles" facing pioneering UGC-based channel, Current TV. "For much of the past year, Current TV has been quietly undergoing an overhaul that will change just about everything but the struggling channel's name...," Wallenstein writes. "Forget bite-sized clips created by anonymous viewers; the new Current will consist of full-length series from the usual suspects in unscripted production who are getting the word that Current is open for business."

 

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