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Microsoft gives cord cutters another reason to take the Xbox One seriously

May 21, 2015, 1:04 PM UTC
Courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft plans to make Xbox One the centerpiece of every consumer’s living room with the launch of the Hauppauge TV Tuner.

The small adapter connects an HDTV antenna to an Xbox One, which in turn is able to decipher standard over-the-air (OTA) broadcast TV signals. This means Xbox One users will now be able watch live TV (including local news broadcasts) from major networks such as NBC, CBS, PBS, and Fox.

Using the Xbox One interface, users can now view upcoming programming through OneGuide, simultaneously play games and watch live TV, or issue voice commands (to, say, change the channel) through Microsoft Kinect. Users can also stream live programming from the Xbox One to an iOS, Windows, and Android device via the SmartGlass app as well as pause or record live TV for up to 30 minutes.

The Hauppauge TV Tuner adapter retails for $59, or $99 as part of an HDTV antenna kit. A similar device has been available in select European markets since October 2014.

The Xbox One already provides access to a well-rounded selection of streaming services such as Sling TV, Netflix and HBO Go, which unfortunately all lack live broadcast capabilities. By adding OTA options to its flagship console, Microsoft is lining up the last piece of the cord-cutting puzzle for those looking to leave behind costly cable subscriptions.

Microsoft’s (MSFT) competition (namely, products from Apple, Amazon, and Roku) don’t offer live programming services, which means the console will continue to gain credibility as not only as a gaming console, but also an entertainment device.

On its own, live programming is not enough to entice users over to a new platform (let alone enough to tell Comcast to get lost), but when you add it to the Xbox, which already has a healthy list of streaming services, the appeal is easy to see.