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Microsoft Xbox To Pull In ABC, Disney Shows On Demand

LAS VEGAS -- Microsoft Sunday night said its Xbox Live service had become a serious alternative to the cable set-top box for the delivery of video content on demand.

As part of founder Bill Gates’ final keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show, the software giant announced that ABC Television, the Disney Channel and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will deliver TV shows and movies to the Xbox 360 console as part of Microsoft’s Xbox Live programming service online.

The president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, Robbie Bach, said all U.S. Xbox Live members will be able pull down TV shows and movies from the ABC Television Network, ABC Family, ABC News, Disney Channel and Toon Disney as part of an agreement with The Walt Disney Co.’s Disney-ABC Television Group.

All told, Bach said that Xbox Live members will be able to access “twice as much on demand content” as is provided by any cable or satellite TV operator. Microsoft said the latest announcements with ABC, Disney and MGM mean that 3,500 hours of TV shows and movies now make the Xbox 360 “a premier platform for on-demand” programs.

Microsoft will deliver more than 500 hours of ABC and Disney content to Xbox Live users, in both standard definition and high definition. Among the shows: ABC’s Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives and Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana and High School Musical, two of its biggest hits.

Past and current ABC shows will be available on demand, with new episodes arriving on the service the day after they air on television.

In October 2005, Disney first said it would make Lost, Desperate Housewives and other TV shows available to computer users through downloads on Apple’s iTunes software and online store.

Xbox 360 will offer such MGM titles as Rocky, Terminator, Legally Blonde, Silence of the Lambs and Barbershop. United Artists, which is related to MGM, will also make select films available on demand.

There are now 10 million members of Xbox Live, which uses broadband Internet connections to allow video game players to compete against each other, from wherever they are.

NBC Universal and Microsoft also said they would work together to deliver about 3,000 hours of live and on-demand programming from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, on an site on Microsoft’s MSN online network.