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Xbox now used more for entertainment than gaming

As promised, Xbox has rolled out three big content partners, beefing up its role as a big television player in the living room. Starting today, HBO Go (for participating providers), Xfinity and MLB (for subscribers) are debuting on Xbox Live, adding to Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and many more. And marking today’s announcement, Xbox said more people are now using the console for entertainment purposes (TV, movies and music) than gaming.

First, to the new apps, which all take advantage of Kinect’s voice and motion controls. In HBO Go (above), viewers can access 1,400 episodes of their favorite HBO originals and selected movies. Xfinity subscribers can dial up thousands of movies and TV shows. And MLB.TV subscribers can watch as many as 2,400 games — even two at once through a split-screen view. Say “switch” to rotate between games.

With all these entertainment apps, Microsoft says users are spending more time watching and listening to content than playing games, a first for the company. “We’ve really seen this amazing explosion at Xbox the last four months that’s honestly even surprised our own hopes and aspirations,” said Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing officer for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business.

As we’ve written several times before, Xbox is television’s largest social network. While these new apps don’t take advantage of many Xbox Live features, the obvious next evolution is to become more social, engaging and connecting subscribers over voice, video and data. The foundation is built, and the scale is there (Xbox sold 426,000 units in February alone). And now it’s just up to developers to evolve a consumption experience to a social experience, tapping the Xbox Live wiring to make it happen. Stay tuned…

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