Officials from Microsoft have confirmed that the company is in talks with the BBC to provide content for Xbox Live Marketplace in Europe - though the console-based 'on demand' television and video service has yet to be launched in the territory.
Microsoft already has licensing deals with companies such as Warner Bros., Paramount, CBS, TBS, MTV, UFC and NBS in the U.S., for a range of television and movie titles. However, new territory specific deals are necessary in each separate country, which together with the need for local content has delayed the expansion of the service elsewhere in the world.
According to a report in The London Times newspaper
, the BBC has already signed a more general agreement with Microsoft to develop its own digital services and is now looking specifically at the Xbox 360 Video Marketplace. The only specific property mentioned is the high definition version of natural history series Planet Earth.
“We are working diligently on multiple fronts to make it happen,” quotes The Times of Ross Honey, senior director of Microsoft’s content and partner strategy group. “The BBC is a great content provider.”
No date for a potential launch in the UK is given, although Microsoft has previously spoken of plans to start the service before the end of the year. It is also unclear whether the BBC content would be charged for, which would be seen as a controversial move in the UK, since all BBC television content is transmitted free of charge, with a mandatory license fee paying for production.