Xbox 360Cable MSO Time Warner Cable (TWC) is pushing the envelope for an eventual set-top-boxless future with the announcement that their TWC TV app will soon be available on the Xbox 360. The TWC TV app allows Xbox Live Gold members, who are also TWC cable subscribers, to access up to 300 linear channels directly through their Xbox 360 – no set-top-box necessary.

“We are thrilled to partner with Microsoft in expanding the many ways our customers already connect to the content they love through TWC TV,” said Mike Angus, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Video for Time Warner Cable in a press release. “We look forward to introducing TWC TV to Xbox 360 and providing customers with this new viewing experience within the home. We are very excited about Microsoft’s vision for entertainment and the vast possibilities Xbox offers.”

TWC made a similar move recently for the Roku streaming box and also allows access to this same channel line-up on PC and Mac computers. TWC seems to be accelerating this strategy. The Roku move was the first time TWC made their content available on a separately sold consumer device that connects directly to the customer’s TV. You can now add the Xbox 360 and one would assume other platforms are in the pipeline.

Like with the Roku application, Xbox 360-delivered channel line-ups vary by market and depend on the video subscription package to which a customer subscribes. There is no additional cost to subscribers for the TWC TV app.

TWC seems to be one of the more aggressive video service providers to push their channel line-up access beyond the traditional set-top-box. Beyond giving access to content on more devices, which is appealing to consumers, these moves have potentially interesting implications.

They lessen dependence on expensive set-top-boxes for providers like TWC. But they also lay the groundwork for potential expansion of a video service provider’s footprint. The TWC TV app increasingly looks like the forerunner of what could be a ‘virtual cable MSO,’ delivering content to a range of penetrated consumer devices to practically anywhere, even outside of incumbent markets. There are all kinds of rights issues and business rules to work out before that’s a reality, but TWC (and others) look to be getting prepared for that potential reality.