Microsoft partners with ESPN to bring sports to gamers


Microsoft ( MSFT ) is bringing the world of sports to its Xbox 360 console in new partnership with ESPN, thousands of live games to anyone with a subscription to Xbox Live. The company made its announcement at the massive E3 gaming and technology expo which took place in Los Angeles this week.

Traditionally, E3 is the video game industry's premier blockbuster event, giving the three big players - Microsoft, Sony ( SNE ) and Nintendo ( NTDOY ) - an enormous stage to promote their newest games, toys and tech demos. This year was no exception, with both Microsoft and Sony pushing Wii-style motion controls that let players interact directly with the images on their screens. 3D technology was another major theme, as Nintendo debuted a handheld 3D game system called the 3DS and Sony showed off the integration between Sony's 3D televisions and 3D-enabled games on the Playstation.

Mixed in with the new technology, however, was a more old-fashioned deal that has a lot of industry experts paying attention. Microsoft managed to convince ESPN to open their service directly to console users, completely bypassing the company's traditional cable carriers. Given the enormous audience for sports, the Xbox/ESPN deal could be a hidden "killer app" that draws millions of sports fans to the Xbox 360 and its subscription-based Live service.

After all, $50 per year, the cost of Live, is many times cheaper than paying a $50 cable bill every month - though Live does require a broadband connection for ESPN to function. Cable companies should pay attention - now that over half the households in this country play videogames , they can't assume that everyone will get their entertainment from the cable box forever. ADNFCR-1724-ID-19847525-ADNFCR

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Personal Finance , Technology

Referenced Stocks: MSFT , NTDOY , SNE News News

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