Microsoft and Sky 'in talks' over subsidised Xbox One

Sign up for a Sky subscription later this year and you could bag a subsidised Xbox One console -- but how would that work?

Sign up for a Sky subscription later this year and you could bag a subsidised Xbox One console -- and it might even act as your Sky box.

That's according to a report at MCV, which quotes "sources familiar with the situation" who reckon Microsoft is in talks with Murdoch and Co over a next-gen console tie-up.

Sky has denied any such deal is in the works. "We have no plans to sell Xbox hardware as part of a Sky subscription," a Sky spokesperson told me. "We have a longstanding partnership with Microsoft by which we distribute our content via Sky Go and Now TV on Xbox. We look forward to continuing to work with them as part of our commitment to giving our customers more ways to watch Sky programming in addition to their Sky+ HD box."

Sky has previously said it wants to "explore opportunities" around the console, while Microsoft has said it wants to work with broadcasters.

So, given it's all up in the air for now, how would a deal between the two work? Let's speculate! It's likely to involve a cheaper -- or even free -- Xbox One when you sign up for a certain level of Sky contract. The more expensive the deal, the more you'd get off, as happens with phone contracts. Free Xbox Live could be thrown in as a sweetener for top-level Sky HD deals.

At the moment, Sky owns a bunch of subsidiaries such as Amstrad that makes its PVR boxes. That means the boxes are as cheap as possible and Sky can control the entire user experience.

A deal with Microsoft might remove quite a bit of that control, however. The Xbox One can tell external cable and satellite boxes what to do via HDMI, overlaying its interface so you can search the Internet while watching telly (pictured above).

If the Xbox One was your Sky box, you'd never have to change input, something Microsoft seemed to think was a huge bonus in its launch presentation. But then Sky would just be another service you used, competing for your time with Netflix and Lovefilm, for example, and meaning you're less likely to renew your subscription.

But as the Xbox almost certainly won't have a satellite tuner built in, you'd still need a Sky box. It's possible, if unlikely at launch, that the Xbox One interface will let you record to its hard drive, but if any PVR functionality is built in it would probably be via the Sky box.

This is hardly the all-encompassing vision of one box -- hence 'Xbox One' -- that Microsoft laid out. It's two companies getting together for a money-off deal, which might still be brilliant, if you want both things. And it could lead to greater integration in the future if the deal's a big hit.

Would you bag a cheap Xbox if you wanted Sky anyway? How do you think the two services should work together? Explain the big deal in the comments, or on our tie-in Facebook page.

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Update: Added comment from Sky.

 

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