The Xbox One now can access live over the air (OTA) television thanks to a partnership between Microsoft and Hauppauge. Currently the ability to view OTA TV is only available to members of the Xbox One preview program but users in the United States and Canada can now view broadcast television through the Xbox One.
The Xbox One was originally marketed as an all-around entertainment system. Over the year or so after Microsoft’s latest console was released, that emphasis was not as strong but those days are long gone.
OTA television is for broadcast networks that are available for free and don’t require a subscription. Some examples include NBC, Fox, and PBS. While the channels are free, the gear to view them through the Xbox One isn’t.
Right now you have to have a Hauppauge WinTV-955Q which costs $79.99 and an HDTV antenna. Xbox’s post announcing the partnership says that Hauppauge is working on making a cheaper alternative, the Hauppauge TV Tuner for Xbox One, which will cost $59.99.
Major Nelson interviewed Harrison Hoffman from the Xbox engineering team on the new features:
Here’s what users get access to with the new available set up.
“Watch Over-the-Air TV on Xbox One:” This lets you watch TV that’s broadcasted to your area from over the air networks. In the US good examples are NBC and Fox. I checked my zip code in the US and in addition to those I would also get access to Ion and other channels so it’s worth looking in your specific area. Microsoft points out that you can even watch TV while waiting in the multiplayer lobby.
Get notifications while watching TV: If you’re watching TV through the setup you can “receive game invitations and notifications.” This makes the Xbox One a much more powerful all around media device.
“OneGuide for TV Listings across Sources:” Those who have seen the Xbox One’s integration with cable will be familiar with OneGuide. It gives you a well laid out guide of all your channels. There’s also a feature called MiniGuide which lets users in the US see a smaller guide and tweets about the program.
“TV Viewing in Snap:” Snapping is a well-designed feature for the Xbox One that allows you to multitask. With the TV set up you can have TV on the side of your screen and then easily transition to other apps on your Xbox One like Skype.
“Pause Live TV:” This isn’t a full-fledged DVR but it does allow you to pause live television for up to half an hour.
“Favorite Channels:” This lets you make a custom OneGuide. There may be channels you wouldn’t miss if you never saw them again so having a favorites section helps out.
“Changing Channels by Voice with Kinect:” The example that Microsoft gives is saying “Xbox, watch NBC,” and it changing the channel. If you don’t like voice control you can also control the channels with your Xbox One controller or the Xbox One Media Remote.
“Stream Over-the-Air TV to Xbox One SmartGlass:” This may be the most useful feature of the bunch. You can use a device with the Xbox One SmartGlass app to have OneGuide in your hands. You can also “stream TV within your home from your Xbox One.”
It's important to note that this OTA TV tuner is different than the Digital TV tuner which received an announcement of its own today.
The ability to watch OTA television really makes the Xbox One a potential cable killer. If you combine this with Sling TV you would have OneGuide and Kinect voice control for a vast majority of what many people watch. It doesn’t fully supplant cable but for many the addition of OTA TV will fill out their viewing needs check list.