First Xbox One TV ad features no games

Half-minute spot for North American market focused on NFL fantasy football, Skype functionality

Microsoft has added the first North American Xbox One television ad to its official YouTube channel, and surprisingly, it doesn't feature any games. Instead, the 30-second spot is focused on the NFL on Xbox One initiative, which lets users watch games while receiving personalized fantasy football updates on the edge of the screen, or while using Skype video chat.

The system's first TV ad is risking a similar reaction to its first media briefing. When Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One in May, it received criticism for, among other things, focusing its event on sports and TV functionality rather than games. The company responded at the time by promising that Xbox One's E3 showing would be "all about the games." As of this writing, the YouTube ad has more than 5,000 likes and dislikes, with the latter outnumbering the former by nearly 2:1.

The ad was revealed just before the NFL regular season kicked off with a Denver Broncos-Baltimore Ravens game last night. The Xbox One is set to launch in North America on November 22, which means football fans will have limited time to enjoy those features during the regular season, which concludes December 29.

The NFL on Xbox One partnership is reportedly costing Microsoft $400 million over five years. Beyond the Xbox One integration, it will also see Microsoft's brands receiving placement during NFL broadcasts, with logos on or around the field, and possibly coaches calling players using Surface tablets.

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Latest comments (23)

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
Yes, because it was an ad aimed at the football audience of non-gamers. Just like the TV briefing was not aimed at the gamer crowd. Microsoft very much wants people who never would have thought about an Xbox to do so now, and this NFL deal is a major part of that strategy. There will be a lot more ads like this focusing on the 3GB side To Joe Sixpack, both systems play games, not a lot of difference, so in their effort to sell those who don't even know an Xbox is coming, they make this. Pretty much everyone who is going to buy in the launch window has picked their poison, the gamers anyway, so advertising to the, is pointless
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Bad move in my opinion, consoles got in consumers home's and became entertainment devices due to gamers buying them, then sharing them with rest of family and using them for entertainment, the average non-gamer simply isn't ready especially in the present financial climate to buy a console just for entertainment, so purchases will be driven by the gamer of the household, this means you should target them first if you wish to build your entertainment business bigger, with entertainment features showcasing second, MS seems to have looked at the entertainment usage statistics from xbox 360 and decided a large number of people seem to be using this for entertainment, lets market to them direct, the majority of those using it for entertainment are the gamers, and those who are not, are the gamers families, either way, Sony has the right of it, they lost allot of potential market share from their boo boo's around announcement time, but it wasn't just the always online and sharing issues that put gamers off and vexed the gaming press into the storm of negativity, it was the entire approach, the lack of focus on games, which is a bigger concern then either of the others remains, especially to hardcore gamers, with multiple gaming platforms (inc pc) who may already be used to always online on pc.

Sure they clawed back some customers with there retractions but the spirit of their entire marketing campaign for the console is still wrong and premature for the real world market, and they also squandered a great deal of the good will xbox360 bought them in the process, speaking from a personal prospective whilst owning several consoles + pc, the majority of my console gaming has been done on microsoft platforms for two generations, so the chances of me choosing xbox one 1st was very high, however after viewing the companies presentations 1st the announcements then e3, I swapped to a ps4 pre-order, and I've been assured by other I'm not the only one.

Nothing MS has done since has been sufficiently beneficial to change it back, sure they cancelled several of their mistakes but this does not negate sony's successes nor does it bring back the feelings of good will lost, it just removes a negative outlook on the console, however adverts like this will do nothing to build on that and build any good will with gamers, who regardless of what MS may incorrectly think are their primary customers, and if MS really wanted to build their entertainment delivery to greater heights should be the primary focus of their advertisements as after all gamers are the ones who bring microsoft's trojan horse of entertainment content delivery into the household.

Alas like many MS moves of late, ms leadership has shown themselves to be out of touch with their customer base, and bought into their own wishes, just because you wish something were true, see some anecdotal evidence supporting it (ie in this case high entertainment use on x360) and there's no direct evidence against it (as no one has marketed a games console for entertainment above gaming before theres no evidence either way, except perhaps the fact no one has done so), does not mean it is true, in multiple fields in recent years MS has lurched from mistake to mistake loosing market share and money every time, all because MS seems unable to differentiate its own wishes from reality.

That's not to say long-term microsoft probably wont see many of its wishes come true, at least as far as Xbox one is concerned consoles will be increasingly important as time goes on in terms of entertainment as the last generation consoles prove, sony's quiet reservation of so much ram for their OS shows they've decided on a similar strategy, they're simply smarter about how they announce it given the market at the present, however for Microsoft the entire process will be slower and more of a struggle then it should have been, and as a result loose potential earnings, as consumers may be ready to use the console for entertainment but not to buy one for it, they have yet to convince many gamers, even previously primarily xbox gamers as to the full merits of its new gaming console for games, until that message has been successfully put across, they should not be focusing on entertainment to detriment of gaming.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 7th September 2013 2:28am

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
I don't disagree with you on many of your points, especially the financial climate issue, but the problem is that most of the gaming industry isn't very aware of the entertainment side of things, outside the "how much are people watching Netflix" factor.

As much as people scoff at the TV factor, it's the biggest potential growth sector of the entire industry right now: home management.Microsoft has been making pacts with the cable industry for years, which is why you see the Time Warner/Xfinity/Verizon/etc apps on the system, and why the new Xbox is designed to integrate with the current setup, and the new IP based cable systems in the near future.

One of the biggest expenses the cable industry has, is cable boxes. Know why they charge you $10 a month each? It's not just because they can get it. It's because they cost hundreds of dollars apiece, and people stack stuff on top of them, leave them on 24 hours a day, and they generally have a poor life expectancy. Newer cable installations are IP based, and they have a "motherbox" that then transmits to the baby boxes attached to the TVs over wired or wireless connections. Why do you think they've been investing in Xbox and SmartTV apps? Because the goal is to get out of the cable box business entirely for a BYOCablebox ecosystem for a savings of about half a billion dollars a year industrywide

And that's where Xbox One comes in. Not only can it act as a motherbox, but it gives them a robust platform on highly programmable hardware. No more writing for 8 different models of box, all of which are running on specialized hardware. Instead, you can write a program like you would for windows and just release it, and the Xbox can beam that programming to Blu-ray Players, SmartTVs, Xbox 360s, PS3s, or whatever else is running the "catcher" app, just like Windows Media Center works today.

Cable companies are not just about TV anymore. The Skype stuff is very much about the stuff you're already seeing where a callerID is displayed on screen. They're moving into home automation (HVAC/Alarm systems/lighting control/security cameras etc), and X1 can easily support all of this, at all times, without interrupting your game of Madden.

If you look at the current offers for FIOS,Xfinity, etc you'll see that they give you a $300 giftcard with a two year subscription. There's a big method to Microsoft's madness on the pricing. It's designed to be subsidized like a cell phone is now. Buy two years of cable and internet, get an X1 for $199. Sign up for home monitoring as well and it's free. Microsoft has also not spent all this time developing mother apps that can be reskinned for nothing .If you notice, all their video apps are the exact same thing, just reskinned. They'll be selling those services to the cable companies as well.

Like it or not, do you know how many DirecTV subscriptions NFL Sunday Ticket moves? Right now it's exclusive to the service in the US, and has 19.9 million households paying $300 for it. Do you think PS3 losing Sunday Ticket streaming last month is a coincidence? So these 20 million people, and the millions on top of that who do not have, cannot get, or do not want DTV all of asudden can access it, if they sign up for two years of cable, which they were going to do anyway, and get all these interactive, highlight, and other features on top of it? And don't you think they have ESPN, MLB,NBA and NHL waiting in the wings to see how this goes?

Microsoft tried to do the IP based cable thing about 3 years ago, and they discovered that the networks simply wanted too much money to risk the wrath of the status quo, something I know that Sony has discovered when they threw their wallet at Viacom. Once again, they're very behind on what's going to be an important trojan horse into people's homes this generation. If you don't believe that, they were running 4GB of RAM until the spec leaks, and now they have 4GB more with a dedicated app space. The only problem is that they're about 3 years behind on development of that, and the voice commands that are going to be playing bigtime on the Today show come November

Will it succeed? That remains to be seen, but I hope I've at least explained what their reasoning likely is, and why again, they're chasing the new customers, and not the people who are buying the console for the games this Christmas, most of whom are already sold one way of the other.
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Show all comments (23)
John Bye Lead Designer, Future Games of London4 years ago
The question is, is anybody going to spend $500 at launch on a set top box for Skype and fantasy football? I suspect not. The people who are going to buy the Xbox One in the first few months are mostly core gamers and early adopters. They want to know about the games and online features, not picture-in-picture TV and Skype.
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Please enlighten me... what exactly is Fanatsy Football?
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
Fantasy football is a statistics game where people pretend they're the manager and trade players, get new ones and other such things. Te game changes week to week based on how the real people perform

As I said, NFL Sunday ticket is $300 a year to watch games that are out of your home market. They're planning full access to the camera feeds and other "make the broadcast your own" type features. And if they can put their buddy n screen who can't be there to watch the game, that's very attractive, especially when it's a family thing as football often is. I don't think people in the UK can quite appreciate the insanity around football here. In the south, there are high school stadiums that hold more people than professional ones, and lots of them that are used about ten times a year. Me, I despise it, and when they drop $400 million to build a new one I cringe, because I know that that money could have bought schoolbooks that aren't falling to pieces for the city instead, but I also know that people get retarded with their wallets. Minimum ticket price here is $70 for the worst possible seats in a 65,000 stadium. People just bought a million copies of the same game they bought last year. If its pushed on the broadcasts, enough of the, will buy this, and then buy related services and get some games for the kids.

The people buying this for games want it for that. These ads are targeting people for whom games are an afterthought. Microsoft isn't just holding back consoles from preorder so Mommy can find one for junior at launch.
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Tim Ogul Illustrator 4 years ago
I am absolutely shocked that the ad they put together to run during football games focuses on football. How dare they. What next, an ad aimed at Youtube that focuses on whiny trolls?
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago

I agree with you that it's a big gamble, but I don't think that it's a risky one. The worst case scenario will be that they're too far ahead of the average customer, and it takes long enough to catching that others catchup. I do think MS is in a far better position to be the default choice, assuming Sony matches their features and content deals.

Next years CES should be interesting
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Morgan King Animator 4 years ago
The thing is, this seems less like broadening the Xbox audience, and more about shoehorning in cable subscriptions to people who abandoned them. The demographic that's not leaving cable is the 45+ crowd, and the 25-and-unders are plummeting. I have a hard time believing that fantasy football is remotely as mainstream as this move seems to indicate, or football viewers vaguely interested in a gaming console didn't buy one for Madden. That is heavily marketed to sports viewers, too, right?
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
This ad is not aimed at cor cutters, in fact cord cutters are somewhat exaggerated as a phenomenon there's a limitif how many people are used to a near ubiquitous service will do without it on a permanent basis. The real issue is the under 25 cord nevers, who when offered a free Or heavily discounted Xbox and cable might not blink atit, because 95% ( a conservative number) of cutters do not return to dial up and an antenna. They still have a telecom broadband connection.

He'll, they even have ESPNless packages now, which lowers your cable by$10. Only problem is that they seem exclusively designed for urban women, leaving out SyFy and ComedynCentral ( and Fox News, a plus).

This ad is targeted at the family of Joe Sixpack in the middle to upper middle class, not at gamers the TV briefing was all about getting this stuff on Entertainment Tonight and CNN, not getting it on G4. They're not asking people to buy a $500 console to play fantasy football

32 million people play fantasy football, and a lot of them have disposable income for toys. Virtually, if not all networks who show football run a league

Remember when the PC and AOL got big? "Junior does his homework, while dad manages the personal finances, and mom stores her recipes" Thisis the start of feeding people in all walks of life these kinds of scenarios, hoping be will be appealing.
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games4 years ago
Football Manager, is one of the most successful and longest running game franchises ever!
Xbox One caters to a lot more than just gamers. Deal with it! Gamers are not the center of the universe (might be our universe but not THE universe) and there are a lot more people out there who do other things with their screens than just playing games.

These people Microsoft plans to entertain and entice by providing a HOME console for the entire home. A modern home. Not a gamer's home. Games are only an important part of what Microsoft wants to offer with Xbox One.

As it has been pointed out before, by several people, in countless such discussions,

Xbox One offers what apple and google are trying to provide each with their own individual packages (i.e. apple TV, android Smart TVs) along with a world class gaming machine and a top of the line home information and communication device, all in one package. (Nintendo attempted that too with WiiU, but their vision is too limited to gaming and they failed) So many have said in the past that Apple TV would be great if you could run apps and play games! Well Xbox One can do that; and in the most advanced manner.

This is about the Home Entertainment business. Gaming is a part of it.
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Adam Jordan Community Manager, Ubisoft4 years ago
I don't see a problem with this...Xbox isn't just a gaming console any more. Yeah sure it started as one and yes the majority of owners are gamers but not everyone sees it as "just a gaming console" any more.

For example: Sky customers can essentially use the Xbox 360 to view their TV subscription in a separate room at no extra cost, if for example a household has both a Sky subscription and a 360 due to their children having one and those children want to watch say a movie but it means bugging their parents...they can watch it upstairs just by logging into the Sky Go app.

Microsoft are only doing what we are used to for the last decade. "Oh you have a mobile phone that you ring and text on? How about we put a camera on the back so you can take pictures on the move and while we're at it, fancy listening to music?"

Sometimes I honestly think people complain for the sake of complaining. Sure if I do decide to get an Xbox One, I probably wouldn't use half of what they are offering, the sports stuff for one I wouldn't use but the thing is, it's optional, I don't HAVE to use it or pay for it but what about sports fans that do? Then again I am not selfish enough to stop others from enjoying the same things I do but with a different twist.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Jordan on 8th September 2013 3:17pm

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Paul Jace Merchandiser 4 years ago
Looking at the last three post above me I'm glad I'm not the only one who "gets it". Microsoft is attempting to broaden their horizons by significantly expanding their market. How do they do that? By advertising to the non-gaming demographics, the ones who aren't aware that the XB1 is launching this fall and are also unaware of it's many non-gaming capabilities.

Sometimes I honestly think people complain for the sake of complaining
Welcome to the internet my friend. Or better yet, welcome to post XB1 policy reversal internet. Like most people I wasn't thrilled by XB1's initial vision, so I was relieved when they changed all of that nonsense(I'm still waiting for them to add 360 backwards compatibility but I'm not holding my breath) and made the system the way it is now and will be when it launches this fall. But some people are apparently still upset about those initial policies and because of that they simply want to complain about everything related to Microsoft, good or bad. As has already been explained, there was nothing negative or bad about this football themed ad but some of the comments would have you believe otherwise....unless you were paying attention to the bigger picture.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 8th September 2013 10:45pm

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
The real problem I've weenies that the vast majority ofprp,r complaining about the initial policies don't know anything about them. They think used games were locked out entirely, I had one guy freak out about the hard drive installation requirement till I explained to him this had been in PC gaming over 20 years. Microsoft could have weathered that storm if they'd thought to ring up best buy, GameStop and WalMart and give a demonstration of how game selling works. Instead they did the worst thing possible, like letting the "Kinect is a secret NSA spy tool" stuff fester. The brass as existing in their own bubble world over there that got popped hardcore and they panicked its like Sony hired all their HD DVD shills who are now unemployed, and are having a wonderful time with some payback.

The dirty little secret behind all of this, near as I've been able to juices together is that the only reason Sony flip flopped on used game DRM is because theirs was a hard lock. They had no partners, no digital ecosystem to allowing buying and trading of used games. Once that RFID. Chip on the disc was tripped, you had to pay again to play on discs that enabled the system. They saw they were screwed, and dumped it, and the rest is history. Microsoft however is still going to get their system integrations, which will mean no more codes and receipts to access stuff. Your tag is linked to your RewardZone or whatever and the continent appears in your account.

The real issue Sony has is what happens come March, when the fanboy fervor has bled out, and all the good games start hitting. I think PS4 has a good shot to win Christmas, they're definitely going to win November, but there's a huge console drought coming for a noth after it ships that could change that. I think well have a lot better idea middlemofoctober how well MS has succeeded in altering the masses. I think a lot of people agree, this Christmas is big picture meaningless. Not that many exclusives, furious OS patching, short supply. Next Christmas is the real game, when everyone has games and systems aplenty, and people have had a chance to touch, taste and feel
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Morgan King Animator 4 years ago
I hope nobody took what I was saying as complaining - it's Microsoft's device to do what they want with, of course - I'm just saying that this seems like a pretty expensive investment in old media with little chance at making any actual inroads to new markets, and one that was surely made before the public unveiling and (pretty clearly) the resultant strategy and personnel changes. I guess the money's already spent on the NFL deal, but this strikes me as targeting an already-friendly demographic (age 25-35 males casually interested in sports and technology - the exact demo that is already aware of popular annual console offerings like Madden and Call of Duty - but if it was meant to compete with Sony, why stop there?). An official NFL realtime fantasy football service is already a free app on your phone - which already makes video calls - that you use while watching the game on cable. That's a tough sell for a $500 piece of hardware - by ignoring the rest of what the console is bringing to the market, the ad seems to offer nothing of value to potential buyers even outside of the extant gamer demographic. The average viewership for an NFL game is around 10 million viewers, and consoles (predominantly on Xbox) are already selling 2.5 million copies of Madden every year - that saturation is great.

All I'm getting at is that Microsoft's messaging on the Xbox brand continues to be baffling and directionless, at best. I very much hope this is but one part of a much bigger ad campaign designed to highlight individual features of the console.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
It's baffling and directionless because you don't know tat side of the buisness. We live in a tech hipster bubble.

You kow what made Bluray mainstream? The ability to watch Netflix. Even their was on your computer and your phone, nothing drove adoption like that. Big picture my friend.
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Morgan King Animator 4 years ago
You may be right - I have no idea what a 'tech hipster bubble' even is, and I don't see how Netflix's almost-ubiquitous success with streaming content could have possibly had more to do with Bluray's plodding adoption rate than integration with other hardware (the PS3 being the prime example, of course). Regardless, if it's baffling and directionless to me, I'd hate to think what it looks like to your average potential console customer - we've seen how well that's gone with the Wii U so far. It's a good thing all those people buying the console this calendar year for Destiny and Titanfall have been paying attention.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
Well, for starters, a Bluray player with Metflix cost half of what a PS3 did at the time, and the feature was prominently displayed on the shelf literature. People wanted an easy way o watch Netflx on their TV, and tis revised it. This was before there were Rokus and AppleTV. People needed something to push them over into a purchase, and Netflix was it. Hipster bubble means that we hear all about new tech and adopt it very quickly. But the other 75%+ of the population doesn't. It's that same 75% that buys the as e brand on all their electronics without thinking, in fact a large percentage of people think a Sony Blu ray won't work on a Samsung TV. no joke Microsoft is deliberately leaving out the game console part so as not to scare them off

Cable isn't bleeding fast enough forit to make a difference in the X1 lifespan, thought expect the HDMI in will go by he time the slim arrives, because the Cable apps will be up and running. Cable is already changing the way they do things, How much difference is there realy between HBO now and Netflix 2016? They've made a lot of moves to buy Starz (failed), think they would have done thatif it wasn't going o work out? They're going to have premium tiers in the near future, coulton it House of Cards, Disney and recent movies are pricey.

You would not believe what an advantage having stuf built in is. That's how Internet Explorer became o dominant people rarely seek alternatives to what thy have at hand without a impelling reason to do so. PS3 put Bluray into geek houses, not Joe Sixpack.
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Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek4 years ago
I just don't see the $500 value proposition for non-gamers. Everyone has a smartphone with skype, and a fantasy football app, I presume. Do you really need to spend $500 to have this on TV?

I fail to see why someone not even remotely into core games would buy an X1 at launch.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd4 years ago
Yeah, people who don't play games but who want to play fantasy football and use Skype (for some reason forgetting that they're almost certainly carrying a device that can do this right now) are definitely going to drop $500 on a games console.

A flawless plan.
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Paul Shirley Programmers 4 years ago
Felix is spot on, $500 for a box that does what your TV already does or a new $500 SmartTV could do isn't the massive USP it might have looked like when MS execs had this brainwave. It's been obvious for a long time XB180 is a media hub that can play games, another attempt to become the gatekeeper on your TV. The online requirements aren't just DRM for content, they're a heavy handed way to make you see portal content every day. The still compulsory Kinect because it needs a good remote control as much as any other reason.

Unfortunately it's too expensive to just be a media hub for non gamers. Even worse recent developments in cloud based IPTV risk making it totally unnecessary to have that much power in the clients. Deutsche Telekom just hinted that future pay tv service will implement the UI on their servers, leaving clients to simply decode 1080p H264 streams. That's every device out there capable of receiving TV - a £10 Sky dongle, mobile phone, smartTV or laptop, they're all going to just work and never need upgrading.

I see another bandwagon joining MS scheme that's a year too late, like usual. If the Win8 scheme to turn Windows into a shopfront for rented MS services had gained any traction it might be different but no one seems interested in what MS are offering. As an intermediate device between your TV and other providers it just makes no sense at all. By the time MS give up it won't matter if they free the division to just focus on games again.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Shirley on 9th September 2013 2:29pm

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David Serrano Freelancer 4 years ago
And the ad also didn't feature anyone over the age of thirty. Just saying...
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
If Sony ran that add for their new TV-Vita, then we wouldn't be having this discussion.

But we are all gamers and this is how we cope with the shock of what Microsoft is doing with its new console.
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