Microsoft is getting in to the video download market through its Xbox 360 console, which can be connected to a broadband connection for the Xbox Live service.

The company has struck deals with various content providers, including CBS, MTV Netowrks, and Paramount, to offer pay-per-download TV shows, in standard and high-def, and movies, on Xbox Live starting on 22 November. At launch, it will feature around 1000 hours of programming. TV shows will be available to own, while films will only be available to rent for a 24-hour period.

CBS shows on offer include CSI, Jericho, Numb3rs, and remastered Star Trek; will deliver condensed versions of Nascar Nextel Cup Series races; South Park will be available from Comedy Central; and MTV will throw in The Real World and Pimp My Ride. The content is mainly aimed at young men, who perhaps don’t normally watch TV, but enjoy spending quality time with their gaming console(s).

The main difference between the Xbox Live video download service is that there’s no PC involved at all; content is delivered and can only be watched via the console, and the videos can’t be transferred to other devices or burned to DVD. However, users will be able to log in to their accounts remotely to watch their videos from other Xbox consoles.

The announcement of the new service, launching around the same time as Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PS3, may give Microsoft an edge in the run up to Christmas, as Sony has yet to announced its downloading plans for the beleaguered PS3.