Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

Microsoft Media and Entertainment Group Corporate Vice President Blair Westlake testified before the Senate Commerce Committee yesterday regarding the future of video. The hearing was titled “The Emergence of Online Video: Is It the Future?”

In his testimony, Blair discussed how online video providers are bringing consumers greater choice and control over their viewing experience. Today, Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE service has 40 million subscribers worldwide – watching more than 300 million hours of a wide array of video offerings each month. Yet, despite all of the options available to consumers today, he noted that in just a few years, the content available today “will look like a mere bucket in the proverbial ocean of content.”

Westlake testified that the video marketplace is on the edge of even greater change that will feature new forms of content, greater interactivity, access and payment choices for consumers. Television will soon be a two-way interactive experience, with the integration of Bing search functionality and voice recognition technology on devices such as Kinect and the ability to access video content on all of a consumer’s entertainment devices.

For example, “Sesame Street” programming that Microsoft will release in a few months will be completely interactive and leverage the power of gesture and voice control. Children will be able to interact directly with characters like Elmo and Cookie Monster on their TV screen to learn counting and the alphabet and to actually see themselves on their TVs as part of the program – stretching their imaginations like never before.

Westlake noted that the future of video depends first on policies that promote access to universal, high-speed broadband. Importantly, companies must also adapt to sustainable, innovative business models. Microsoft is pleased to be part of a rapidly evolving, vibrant video marketplace that will give consumers more choice, more control and better offerings.

You can read Blair Westlake’s testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee here.