Xbox alive with family content


Microsoft on Monday announced deals with Warner Bros. Entertainment and Nickelodeon that will make more than 100 family-friendly TV episodes, ranging from Looney Tunes classics to "The Backyardigans," available on Xbox Live for the first time.

The content deal came as Microsoft also unveiled a new version of the Xbox 360, dubbed Arcade, priced at $279 and bundled with five games, including "Pac-Man Championship Edition," "Uno" and "Feeding Frenzy."

Both moves are designed to better position the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live service as mass-market entertainment. Xbox 360 global product manager Aaron Greenberg said they will be backed by a major marketing campaign aimed at families this holiday season.

"We think this is great for families because in addition to games, DVD movies and music, we can provide all this on-demand entertainment as well," he said.

Warner Bros. said more than 50 Looney Tunes episodes featuring such characters as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck will be on-demand on Xbox Live for the equivalent of $1.50 for an standard-definition download and about $1.75 for high-definition versions. Ten episodes will be available in Spanish.

"We are particularly proud to offer programming in Spanish as well as high-definition, both of which help enhance the appeal of these great shows for Xbox 360 owners," said Michele Edelman, vp marketing at Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.

In addition to "Backyardigans," the Nickelodeon offering on Xbox Live will include the entire "Blue's Clues" library as well as episodes of recently launched tween-centric series "iCarly."

Greenberg said that the new Xbox 360 Arcade has been planned for months and was not a move to counter rival Sony's announcement of a new $399 40GB PlayStation 3. He added that Xbox 360 hardware and software sales has been surging in recent weeks, thanks primarily to the massively successful launch of "Halo 3."

"We think what makes us unique is we have the games and the entertainment content for everyone from preschool up to adult," Greenberg said.