Microsoft is preparing to deliver the NFL Network, live, on the Xbox One. The company is working with NeuLion to enable the delivery of the channel at 60 frames per second (fps).
Doubling the typical frame rate of live video is especially pertinent with sports broadcasts. Sports networks, including ESPN, consistently say that if forced to choose between one or the other, a faster frame rate is preferable to higher resolution.
Microsoft’s Xbox One is among the first consoles that has a video card capable of processing video at 60 fps, noted Chris Wagner, executive vice president and co-founder of NeuLion.
Neulion specializes in delivering live and on-demand content to Internet-connected devices, also delivers video through Apple’s AppleTV, Roku’s boxes, and Sony’s PlayStation 3 (and is working on the PS4).
The multi-year contract with Microsoft has NeuLion delivering live 24/7 linear channels, stats data, and on demand content for broadcasts to Xbox One.
NeuLion’s software-based platform will capture multiple live sports feeds on its cloud based service to format the content for delivery to the Xbox One.
Neulion does the encoding and transcoding for the NFL live streams delivered to Xbox One. Wagner said the company provides seven profiles that range from 6 Mbps, at 1280 x 720, at 60 fps at the high end, to 600 kbps, 464 x 264, at 30 fps; the rate depends, of course, on network conditions and viewers’ bandwidth. There will be no buffering at any rate, Wagner said.
Microsoft already had a free app for the NFL. Viewers who want to access the live NFL Network channel will need to download that app, plus subscribe to XboxLive Gold. The service is authenticated through viewers’ MVPDs.
“One of NeuLion’s core strengths is our ability to get our partners to market fast with an integrated experience,” said Wagner. “Our sports platform has helped to reduce the complexities involved and deliver for Xbox fans a tremendous live sports experience on the game console.”