In spite of the fact Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has been a consistently successful device over the the last decade, the company has always longed for a sustainable ‘entrée into the living room.’
It’s one thing to be a successful gaming platform for millions of users but it’s quite another to have an established presence on a platform that doesn’t involve Madden franchises or shooting aliens. While apps such as Netflix have made Xboxes capable of streaming television shows and movies, they still don’t have a necessary presence in the live TV format.
With the announcement of Xbox Live’s Election Hub, that all very well could change.
On Monday, Microsoft announced they are launching the Xbox Election Hub in partnership with NBC News, Rock the Vote, The National Journal and the Atlantic among others. The goal, first and foremost, is a necessary interactive TV experience. According one poll, nearly 40 million Xbox voters are still undecided as to who they vote for in November. The Election Hub will serve as a gateway into the political discussion centered around the political conventions as well as the presidential debates.
The previously mentioned interactive experience is a live polling system that will gather impressions as people watch broadcasts of the presidential debates. The Hub will also feature pathways to registration, live-streamed town hall meetings and daily polls.
According to Jose Pineiro, senior director of marketing and public relations for Microsoft, this is ‘only the beginning’ and will be ‘probably the biggest real-time reaction poll on the presidential debates."
As Samit Sarkuer from The Verge notes, Microsoft is looking to turn users into ‘participants in the process.’ The interactive experience will attempt to engage the average Xbox user in not just a political discussion but actually make them a part of the political process i.e. virtual voting.
In this day of social media, it’s all about having a voice and Xbox wants this interactive experience to provide an outlet for each of its users.
But why stop at politics? A writer for Forbes points out the possibilities if this Election Hub project is a success.
“The implications for Xbox Live as a television platform are gigantic – why stop at the election? Why not build a hub for other major news events? Why stop at news? If this partnership with NBC goes well, why not move into entertainment as well?”
Now it takes two for an interactive experience to be well, interactive. What’s to say Xbox users won’t still choose to get this information through traditional media outlets instead of powering on their Xbox? Microsoft is banking on the fact that by making it more of a conversation and soliciting opinions from its youthful following, that they will want to join the discussion.
Fred Humphries, vice president of government affairs at Microsoft, elaborates:
“By bringing the elections directly into the home through this Xbox platform, we hope to encourage greater participation in the democratic process this fall.”
Simply put, Microsoft is hoping that by empowering the user, they will power up their product.