Microsoft's not done with its TV plans on Xbox One; today the company announced that the console will soon support reception of over-the-air TV networks in the United States and Canada. This will allow Xbox One owners to watch live programming from broadcast networks like CBS, FOX, NBC, and PBS without a cable subscription. Microsoft has already launched this feature elsewhere in the world, but Xbox customers in North America have been clamoring for their turn; the company says OTA support has been a top request among users.
This plus Sling TV could make for a great setup
You'll need more than an Xbox One console to watch live TV, however. Both a TV tuner (Microsoft recommends this one) and an HDTV antenna are required before you can receive OTA channels. In the future, Microsoft says we'll see a lower-cost Hauppauge TV tuner specifically designed for the Xbox One priced at $59.99. One end of the tuner plugs into a coaxial connection that pulls in the TV signal, and the other connects to your Xbox One over USB.
The company is being careful to note that interested customers should research exactly what channels — if any — are available at their home address. OTA reception can vary dramatically depending on local terrain, so Microsoft wants you to go here to see what's available. There's nothing worse than going out and buying an antenna only to discover that you can't even watch anything.
Preview program members can start watching live TV right now
Once it's set up, the Xbox One will automatically fill out guide listings for your local channels, and you'll be able to quickly switch between live TV and Xbox games — or do both things simultaneously with the console's Snap feature. Xbox One also lets you pause live channels (with a buffer that lasts up to 30 minutes) and reserves around 4GB of hard drive space for that function. It's not a proper DVR, but it's better than nothing. You can also stream those same channels through the Xbox One SmartGlass app if someone else is using the TV.
Pair this new Xbox One OTA support with something like Sling TV, and you get a pretty decent selection of TV programming for only $15 per month. Microsoft says OTA support is coming first to its Xbox preview program members; it's available right now if you've got the necessary hardware. As for everyone else, the company says they can expect the new feature "very, very soon."