Thinking inside the box: ESPN cuts deal with Xbox while Boxee Box launch delayed

The more the industry talks about cloud computing and simplifying the home environment by removing extraneous devices, the more noise there is about new boxes.

In two recent examples, ESPN finally cut its long-awaited deal with Microsoft to stream 3,500 live sporting events through its ESPN3.com service to the game boxes, and the Boxee Box set-top has been pushed back to November because, according to Boxee CEO Avner Ronen, a June launch was "overly ambitious."

The Xbox news came with a major qualifier: To get the content, game boxers have to subscribe to a service that offers ESPN3.com. Right now that's a pretty open list that includes AT&T, Cox Communications, Comcast, Verizon and Charter Communications, which all pay a per-subscriber fee to Disney-owned ESPN for the privilege.

And therein lies another hiccup. Disney has been among the more aggressive content providers in demanding fees from cable operators to carry their content. This could be an indirect reason why the Sports Fan Coalition has filed a petition with the FCC to keep broadcasters from pulling their signals when they aren't happy with retransmission agreements.

Back to Boxee, the Boxee Box is being built in partnership with D-Link and would be used to host Boxee's Web video streaming software. Its apparent goal is to go head-to-head with Google TV, which is building its own box on its Android platform.

For more:
- see this news release
- and this story
- and this story

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