Microsoft has announced a major update to its Xbox 360 which will see the games console morph into a general entertainment hub.
A free software update being rolled out this month will bring “custom applications” and streamed content from major entertainment brands.
Content available will vary depending on location.
UK users will gain access to LOVEFiLM, 4oD, Demand 5, VEVO, YouTube, MSN, MUZU.TV and Sony’s movie and TV video on demand service Crackle.
In “early 2012” the BBC’s iPlayer, MLB.TV and Telenovelas/Sports (Televisa) will be added.
Of the UK’s five terrestrial broadcasters, only ITV is not currently confirmed as an Xbox content partner. Pay-TV company BSkyB already offers content via Xbox LIVE.
“A new era in entertainment begins where all your entertainment is together in one place — your games, movies, TV shows, music and sports,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft.
“With this update, Xbox 360 system owners will experience Kinect voice control integrated with Bing search, making your TV and entertainment experiences more social and personal than ever.”
The update will pitch the Xbox 360 against the Apple TV which offers access to pay per view movies and internet video services.
However Apple has been slow to add UK-specific content to the device which lacks any native catch-up TV services and, unlike the US version, cannot access TV shows bought from iTunes.