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Microsoft in talks for ESPN live streaming and games deal

Line between entertainment content will dissolve with continued experimentation, says Microsoft

Microsoft has held talks with Disney about the possibility of a programming deal with sports network ESPN.

According to a report by the New York Times, a possible deal could provide streaming of live sports events over the Xbox Live service, as well as possible games based on the ESPN brand.

Microsoft has been positioning Xbox Live as much more than a gaming network, adding a variety of online brands including Netflix in the US, Sky TV in Europe, Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm to the service.

Of the 39 million Xbox 360's installed worldwide, around half are connected to Xbox Live.

Marc Whitten, general manager of Xbox Live would not comment on any ESPN talks, but did say the company would continue to look at content options for the service.

"There’s going to be a ton of experimentation around business models and rights. Our goal is, really, how can we get as much content there as possible," he told the NYT.

As well as external partners, Microsoft is attempting to blur the boundaries between TV programming and videogames, with the regularly scheduled 1 Vs 100 quiz on Xbox Live.

"I don’t think there’s a real difference between a game and Lost," said Whitten. "Or a game and American Idol. They’re all ways we spend our leisure time. These narrow swim lanes — games, music, movies — will dissolve."

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Matt Martin avatar

Matt Martin


Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.