Windows Media Center launches sports channel

Microsoft's WMC will offer sports, other premium content in bid to attract more mainstream users. New channel will feature replays of each NCAA tournament game.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
Screenshot of Windows Media Center's new sports channel. Microsoft

In its bid to broaden the appeal of Windows Media Center, Microsoft is launching a new sports channel that will offer a range of sports coverage, including replays of NCAA basketball tournament games.

WMC has yet to go mainstream and is still primarily used by hardcore techies. Microsoft is out to change that by making the WMC easier to use, as well as acquiring rights to premium video content.

Microsoft has licensed the rights to sports content from Fox Sports, CBSSports.com (owned by CBS, parent company of CNET News), and MSNBC.com.

The new sports channel goes live Thursday and is available in Windows Vista Home, Premium, and Ultimate. The new channel will only be available in the United States and will not be available for Windows 7 beta users.

The replays of the NCAA tournament games--only marquee match-ups from the first two rounds and then every game after that--will replay within hours of the live action and be "condensed versions."

That means you don't have to sit through timeouts, ball retrieval, or halftime. WMC will also offer clips of game highlights and post-game interviews.