Since its launch in late 2013, the Xbox One hasn’t quite blown away the rest of the streaming stick and set-top box industry with its selection of media apps. Only a few of them offer more intense or interactive elements than you might find on a Roku-branded device, including the NFL’s exclusive Xbox One app and other sports offerings.
On Thursday, that tide may have turned – albeit well after the console’s launch – with the surprisingly impressive launch of the ABC News app. Unlike the news network’s app offerings on smartphones and tablets, ABC News on Xbox One is a video-only explosion that begins with a surprising amount of live content, much of which – at least from day one – has no ads at all. contains .
We downloaded and tested the app, partly just to mock its performance usage; like in other video apps on Xbox One, users can collect Xbox achievements by doing things as simple as watching five videos from the “entertainment” or “technology” sections of the app. Again, like in other video apps, these cheevos have no point value – so as not to help Gamerscore addicts increase their point total by marathoning Diane Sawyer interviews.
What we found, it turned out, was a significant amount of pre-recorded clips and live content. In particular, the app’s main “live video” feed offered quite a few things during the app’s launch morning: a live briefing from the US State Department; an uncut feed of the murder trial of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez; and ABC’s own national 24-hour news feed.
This was the same live content we found on ABCNews.com, but it was much easier to bounce between feeds and pre-recorded clips via the Xbox One app. In addition, the app also shows news clips from ABC stations in eight cities, but no live content from those. And, presumably because it’s on Xbox, ABC News’ app has opted to dedicate an entire tab to its sister company Marvel. As in other ABC News apps, the content of the Xbox One app changes whether users log in in the morning, afternoon or evening – essentially more Good morning America clips in the morning, more 20/20 videos in the pm.
If ABC solved the legal hassle of adding more news stations across the country — and, frankly, hosting more investigative reports in the app’s archives — it could become a real powerhouse for home news consumption. For now, the clean interface and wide range of content make this a more interesting news app than anything we’ve seen on a streaming box to date; this is, after all, the first major news app on consoles today, surpassing NBC News’ own Xbox 360 offering.