SEATTLE -- Microsoft Corp. has added college basketball and
other ESPN programming to the growing lineup of video content
available for download to its Xbox 360 video game console.
Microsoft and ESPN said people can purchase complete NCAA
basketball and football games, the X Games sports competitions and
programs like ESPN's "Madden Nation," which chronicles a
competition of "Madden NFL" video game players, from the Xbox
Live Web site.
Xbox 360 users can buy commercial-free standard-definition
versions of select NCAA games for $3, and high-definition versions
for $4.50, within 48 hours of the game's conclusion. ESPN TV shows,
like the other TV content on the Xbox Live download site, cost $2
for standard-definition and $3 for high-def versions.
As part of the agreement, ESPN is considering ways to
incorporate the Xbox Live online gaming community into its
telecasts. ESPN spokesman Paul Melvin said there are no firm plans
for how this will be done.
The companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal when
it was announced late Sunday.
Ross Honey, a senior director of the media and entertainment
group at Microsoft, said action and horror movies are popular
genres for the Xbox Live audience, as are "edgier" animated TV
shows like "South Park."
"At the end of the day, most of our consumers are young
males," Honey said. "You have a perfect match here."
ESPN already delivers live, streaming sports footage to
customers of certain broadband Internet providers.
"Delivering content through Xbox 360 is another way that we can
connect fans with the sports they have such passion for," said
Matt Murphy, senior vice president of digital video distribution
for Disney and ESPN Media Networks. ESPN is owned by The Walt