NBA Game Time adds basketball to the Xbox 360’s media slate

NBA Dwight Howard

Ever since Microsoft opted to transform its Xbox 360 console into a viable replacement for the modern cable box, the company has been pushing to acquire media partners left and right. One of the key areas Microsoft is focusing on is sports, for obvious reasons. Sports fans are intensely dedicated and have proven time and time again an unthinking willingness to drop hundreds of dollars just to see their favorite teams play. While Microsoft has been quite successful in wooing fans of the NFL and UFC, it has had pitifully little to offer basketball fans. At least it did until this morning.

According to an official announcement made by Microsoft, today marks the debut of NBA Game Time, an Xbox Live service that seems to be equal parts basketball broadcast channel and modern, internet-enabled interactive stats-tracking system. Have a look at the features list promised by the PR blast:

  • Live Games, Highlights, and Replays in HD – You’ll have access to every live regular season game, in stunning HD. All the games are available in replay, so you can watch on your schedule. And, if you’re short on time altogether, watch the condensed game recap, or just take in the quick highlights. 
  • My Teams – Obsess over your favorite team and get up-to-the-minute stats on your favorite players.  With NBA Game Time on Xbox 360, getting to the details is quick and easy.  And to make sure you are in the know, add 4 other teams to follow.
  • Stats & Standings – Want to know what’s going on around the league? With Stats & Standings, find out which team is leading a conference or which players top the leaderboards in scoring, rebounding, and more.
  • Scores & Schedules – NBA Game Time on Xbox 360 gives you quick access to the scores you want and the schedules you need – right on your big screen. Spoiler Alert! Feel free to turn those scores off too – so you can catch up on your game a little late, without the spoilers.
  • Mini Guide – The mini-guide gives you a quick preview of all of today’s games right at the bottom of your screen, and makes it easier than ever to switch between games. 
  • Split Screen – Watch two games at once, or watch a live game on one screen while you catch up with highlights or a replay on the other.
  • Voice and Gesture Control with Kinect for Xbox 360  Focus on the court instead of looking for the remote. Navigate through the games, skip to the next quarter, or play, pause, and rewind that buzzer beater, all with the sound of your voice or the wave of your hand.
That’s an undeniably useful feature set for fans of professional basketball, but it should be noted that there are, as always, caveats with this deal. While downloading the NBA Game Time application to your Xbox 360 is totally free of charge, you’re going to need both an Xbox Live Gold subscription and a subscription to the NBA.com League Pass Broadband service for full access to all of the aforementioned features. The $60 per year Xbox Live Gold subscription should be seen as a de rigueur requirement for any of these video-content-based Xbox 360 services, but that League Pass subscription is where things start to get costly. According to the official website, purchasing the League Pass Broadband subscription will set you back about $200 per year. In fairness, there’s also a lesser package that offers users access to only 5 teams’ games (instead of the full 30-team roster seen in the $200 subscription) that only costs about $135.

 

Intriguingly, the official announcement makes no differentiation between these two subscription packages and it seems as if downloading the NBA Game Time application might be a clever way of gaining access to all live NBA games while only spending $135 on the five-team package. If that turns out to be the case, we’re impressed by the generosity of the corporations involved, but our cynicism has us thinking this is just a minor clerical error. We’ve contacted Microsoft to ask for clarification and will update this piece when/if we receive more information.

 

Update: We’ve been contacted by Microsoft representatives who are looking into the question above, but they also wanted to clarify another point made in this piece. If you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription as well as an NBA League Pass Broadband subscription, you will be able to use all of the content outlined above, including the live games and stat-tracking content. However, if you only have an Xbox Live Gold subscription and no access to NBA League Pass Broadband, you will still be able to use all of the stat-tracking content. The only thing you won’t see are those live games.
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