SEATTLE – Microsoft Corp. has added college basketball and other ESPN programming to the growing lineup of video content available for download to its Xbox 360 video game console.
Microsoft and ESPN said people can purchase complete NCAA basketball and football games, the X Games sports competitions and programs like ESPN's "Madden Nation," which chronicles a competition of "Madden NFL" video game players, from the Xbox Live Web site.
Xbox 360 users can buy commercial-free standard-definition versions of select NCAA games for $3, and high-definition versions for $4.50, within 48 hours of the game's conclusion. ESPN TV shows, like the other TV content on the Xbox Live download site, cost $2 for standard-definition and $3 for high-def versions.
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As part of the agreement, ESPN is considering ways to incorporate the Xbox Live online gaming community into its telecasts. ESPN spokesman Paul Melvin said there are no firm plans for how this will be done.
The companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal when it was announced late Sunday.
Ross Honey, a senior director of the media and entertainment group at Microsoft, said action and horror movies are popular genres for the Xbox Live audience, as are "edgier" animated TV shows like "South Park."
"At the end of the day, most of our consumers are young males," Honey said. "You have a perfect match here."
ESPN already delivers live, streaming sports footage to customers of certain broadband Internet providers.
"Delivering content through Xbox 360 is another way that we can connect fans with the sports they have such passion for," said Matt Murphy, senior vice president of digital video distribution for Disney and ESPN Media Networks. ESPN is owned by The Walt Disney Co.