Microsoft to bring local TV channels to your Xbox One

May 10 23:58 2015

You’ll soon be able to play the over-the-air TV game on Microsoft’s Xbox One. Over the last month, a subset of Xbox One users who belong to Microsoft’s Preview Program — this reporter included — have been able to test the new over-the-air broadcast TV feature on the video game[2]

Since this was a preview, the final presentation may look a bit different when live local TV comes to the Xbox One in the next few months. But there’s certainly some gratification to be garnered from snatching a slew of high-def signals out of the air and into your game console. I used a relatively inexpensive Winegard flat amplified antenna that I had connected via coaxial cable to Hauppauge’s WinTV-HVR 955Q Hybrid TV Stick, a USB HDTV tuner (provided by Microsoft) that plugs into the Xbox One. Once connected, the game console recognized the tuner and began scanning for local digital TV signals.

It found 52 channels including the high-definition broadcast channels for local ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS affiliates — and multiple subchannels — as well as Univision, Ion and Cozi TV channels. All of those populated the TV OneGuide, which can be further customized just to include Favorite channels. I found it easy to change channels with the game controller and using my voice, simply saying, “Xbox, Watch CBS,” and the Kinect controller would complete my request. You can also use the Xbox One Media Remote (sold separately, $25).

You can pause, rewind and fast-forward through 30 minutes of video — the Xbox One uses 4 gigabytes of memory to achieve that. And you can also pin live TV video on screen while playing a video game. Of course, you have to be able to pick up signals from your antenna — new flat antennas can reach up to 50 miles, while outdoor antennas can pull in signals more than 100 miles away. So the option isn’t for everyone. But the Xbox One over-the-air TV feature certainly expands the Xbox One’s viability as a home entertainment hub.