March Xbox update ends eight years of TV features

Xbox One X
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Xbox will follow in PlayStation’s footsteps this month by killing off a longstanding TV feature. Just as Sony announced the end of PlayStation Video two weeks ago, Microsoft has announced the end of TV listings in OneDrive.

If you’re not familiar with this useful Xbox feature, you may not miss it once it’s gone. But if you’ve been using your Xbox as a TV tuner since 2013, your console is about to lose a valuable feature.

The information comes from the official Xbox Wire blog, in a post about the Xbox’s latest software update. Starting today (March 10), players can download updates for the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and Xbox apps in Windows 10. The big focus here is on compatibility for the upcoming Xbox Wireless Headset, but the update will also deliver some per-game graphical options, as well as an end to TV listings in OneGuide.

f you didn’t jump on the Xbox One bandwagon way back in 2013, you may not even know that the console had TV listings. Initially, however, Microsoft leaned hard into the “Xbox One as a comprehensive media center” angle, before settling into the more familiar “Xbox One as a game console, first and foremost” paradigm. 

The Xbox One was inseparable from the Kinect peripheral, which let you control the whole system with voice and gesture commands. Furthermore, the Xbox One featured an HDMI passthrough for antenna and cable boxes.

TV passthrough was an interesting feature, and Microsoft still has a setup guide available, if you’d like to learn more about it. The relevant bit, however, is that the Xbox used a program called OneGuide to process channel listings and turn them into a navigable interface. Once you install the new Xbox software update, OneGuide will no longer support TV listings.

While you can still use your Xbox’s passthrough to watch TV, you won’t be able to see any listings for what’s currently on, or what’s coming on next. If you enjoy old-school channel surfing, this won’t be much of a hindrance; for the rest of us, it’s arguably a deal-breaking omission.

While losing a useful feature is always a hassle, it’s understandable why TV listings on Xbox may feel a little less relevant today than they did eight years ago. Back then, you could hook up a digital antenna to your TV, but most TVs didn’t have the necessary interface to show anything beyond a channel’s name. Now, smart TVs can process and compile listings by themselves, without the need for additional, expensive hardware. (You needed a special adapter to get TV signals on your Xbox One.)

Whether you use the TV listings feature every day, or only just learned about its existence, the key takeaway here is that Microsoft’s focus now is very different than it was at the beginning of the Xbox One era. (Remember: the Xbox Series X doesn't have a TV passthrough at all.) Expect to see more gaming features in the future, and fewer focused on streaming.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.