How to Watch Live Television on Xbox One

Microsoft’s Xbox One entertainment console isn’t just a game box. It’s also a universal remote control and input for your television set. Getting the most out of Xbox One’s live television functionality is a bit complicated. Here’s what you need to know and do to watch live television on Xbox One.

Before You Buy

There are some things you should know before you decide to buy the Xbox One to use the live television functionality.

Live television on Xbox One is one of the console’s least understood features. One reason is that Microsoft doesn’t showcase this feature much these days; they prefer to talk more about the special games and new game features that users can expect these days. The second reason why live television is misunderstood is that it does not work as users expect it to.

If you’re considering buying the Xbox One to replace the cable box provided to you by your cable company, you’ll have to wait a little longer. Contrary to what some may think, the Xbox One cannot replace a cable box in most cases. You’ll still be stuck with that giant box provided to you by Comcast, Time Warner, and other cable companies. Instead of communicating directly with the cable line in your home, the Xbox One actually communicates directly with the cable box itself. When users change the channel, the Xbox One actually uses the Kinect 2 sensor to change the channel in the cable box.

The majority of households will at least work this way. Today, there’s a small subset of users who can completely replace cable boxes in some rooms thanks to the Xbox One. Mainly, Verizon users only. This is because Verizon has made an app that allows its users to stream television channels directly to the Xbox One over the internet. This reduces the need for the Xbox One to communicate with the cable network itself and allows users to save some money on those monthly cable box rentals. If you already own an Xbox One, it’s often worth checking to see if your cable company offers an Xbox One app like Verizon’s FiOS customers offer on the Xbox Store.

What to Buy

Purchasing the necessary hardware to watch live television on Xbox One is relatively simple, provided you do your homework.

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HDMI Cable Box

If you’ve had cable for a while, you’re probably familiar with high-definition cable boxes. It allows users with high-definition televisions to watch movies and television shows with incredible clarity. Unfortunately, not all cable boxes have to have high definition features. Go to the cable box in the room where you plan to place the Xbox One and look behind it for an HDMI port as shown above. If your cable box does not have something like this, you will need to upgrade your cable box. There is no way around it.

How to Watch Live TV on Xbox One

This is because the Xbox One uses an HDMI pass-through port to connect directly to your cable box. It is this port that allows the Xbox to display what your cable box is showing. No passthrough ports, no live television on Xbox One. Getting an upgraded box is simple, but with some companies it can add a few dollars to your monthly bill. Go to your provider’s local office to change boxes.

Which Xbox One Should You Buy?

How to Set Up Xbox One (1)

If you have a cable box with an HDMI port, the next thing you need to concentrate on is the purchase of the Xbox One bundle. For the best experience, you’ll want the $499 Xbox One console because of the Kinect 2 sensor it includes. It’s this Kinect 2 sensor that sends the instructions to your cable box.

If the $499 Xbox One is a little too expensive for you, you can always buy the $399 Xbox One without the Kinect 2 sensor. To be clear, it won’t let you do things like tell the Xbox One which channel you want to watch, and the Xbox OneGuide program list will be borderline useless. Also, you cannot raise or lower the volume of your TV. With it, you’ll be able to dial the channel and switch between live television and games with your cable box’s remote control. You will also be able to keep the live television app pulled to the edge of your screen.

I’d say get it right the first time and get the $499 Xbox One, but you can buy the cheaper Xbox One and add a Kinect 2 sensor later if you want. We don’t yet know how much the Kinect 2 sensor will cost when it hits store shelves on its own this year.

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Don’t forget to buy an HDMI cable as well. You’ll want this to connect the console directly to the cable box via the HDMI pass-through port, which we talked about a lot.

Setting Everything Up

In a guide this past holiday season Must Be Mobile He showed you how to set up the Xbox One. Check out this guide for connecting your console to your TV and turning it on. The only extra step you need to take care of in hardware setup is plugging the HDMI cable into the HDMI port on your cable box and the pass-through port on the back of your Xbox One.

Now that you have completed the initial setup of your Xbox One, go by highlighting it with the joystick and pressing the A button on your controller.

How to Watch Live Television on Xbox One (1)

Now highlight the option on the right side of your screen and press the A button.

How to Watch Live Television on Xbox One (2)

Inside the Apps screen, swipe to the far left and select the app.

How to Watch Live Television on Xbox One (3)

Choose now.

How to Watch Live Television on Xbox One (5)

Select first.

How to Watch Live Television on Xbox One (6)

Select TV Lineup. Here you will need to tell Xbox Live who your provider is and what zip code you live in. This will allow Xbox Live, the service powering the Xbox One, to go out and get the channel lineup in your area and more. When this is finished, press the B button to exit the OneGuide settings area.

How to Watch Live Television on Xbox One (7)

Choose now. Here you will need to tell the Xbox One what type of television you have and what type of cable box you have. Moyens I/O has addressed this How to Get Your Xbox One to Turn on Your Television

How to Watch Live Television on Xbox One (8)

Things to Keep in Mind

There are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when using Xbox One to watch live television. First, you’ll want to keep that Kinect 2 sensor attached. Don’t try to navigate the user interface with your hands, but use voice commands. Switching to a channel from anywhere on Xbox One is as simple as saying “Xbox, Go to TV” or “Watch Xbox, ABC Family.” Of course, you can also use the Xbox One’s controller to navigate the UI. Saying “Xbox, On” or turning on your remote will also turn on your television. Finally, the “Xbox, OneGuide” or X button on your controller will bring up an interactive list of what is being broadcast on each channel. OneGuide is also available through the Xbox SmartGlass smartphone app.

Have fun watching your favorite live channels on Xbox One!