Microsoft is on the verge of announcing a new Xbox Live streaming service according to the latest reports, to bring a comprehensive set of streaming services to the 50 million-selling console. Many will be US-only, but in the UK we could soon benefit from LoveFilm movie streaming on Xbox 360.
The planned streaming library will be accessed from within Xbox Live, and will probably require an Xbox Live Gold subscription - like Facebook and Twitter access on the console. Even so, such a move is an important step for the Xbox 360, as the rival Sony PS3 console has benefited from LoveFilm access since late 2010 - and also offers Mubi, BBC iPlayer, 4OD and ITV Catchup.
According to Bloomberg, Microsoft is in talks with "almost two dozen" service providers, and the new Xbox Live streaming plans could be officially announced within a week. In the UK, we are unlikely to benefit from anywhere near as many services as our US cousins, but near the top of our most-wanted list are Spotify, LoveFilm and - of course - BBC iPlayer. Other players expected to be involved in the deal include Time Warner, Sony's Crackle, NBC and the Syfy channel.
LoveFilm streaming requires you to have a paid-for LoveFilm account. £5.99 subscriptions grant you limited access to the service's movie streaming, while subs of £9.99 or above let you stream away to your heart's content. More than 4000 titles are available within LoveFilm's "with package" online streaming catalogue, but this includes TV episodes as well as movies.
Following a brief moment of happiness, our main reaction to this news is - what's taken Microsoft so long? The Xbox 360 is almost six years old, and the Xbox Live service predates it. We'll be back with more details as they appear.