The bad news is that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is delaying the launch of Primetime Xbox Live until early next year.

The good news is that it's still going to happen.

Primetime is Microsoft's bold push to rally gamers around the console. Offering up a game show vibe, those tuning in will be able to compete with the wired masses. Did I mention that there would be prizes?

Primetime was supposed to be ready in time for next month's dashboard refresh for Xbox Live users. Now Microsoft is targeting a springtime debut for its massive multiplayer experience.

Yes, this can be huge. If you're a broadcaster angling for young viewers, this will pose a competitive threat. Primetime game shows have a funny way of drawing the masses when the recipe is right. Shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Deal or No Deal have delivered iconic catchphrases, even if their lifespans on top are brief. Disney's (NYSE:DIS) ABC milked "Is that your final answer?" so much that Who Wants to Be a Millionaire peaked at four primetime slots a week before audiences ran out of lifelines.

What if the next big national primetime gaming sensation belongs to Microsoft? What if by next May, many Xbox 360 owners are tuning in to their Web-tethered console boxes instead of that evening's cable programming? If you don't think arming the public with an interactive say in the gameplay isn't compelling, ask yourself how American Idol made it this far?

Microsoft is doing everything it can to make sure that it can win over the couch potatoes. Whether it's a matter of teaming up with Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) to deliver queue flick streaming later this year or acquiring in-game advertising giant Massive to make sure it has the ad inventory to monetize Primetime, this changes everything.

Thankfully, broadcasters have been also changing the rules of engagement. Between the DVR movement ignited by TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) and on-demand Web streaming of their shows, the major networks have come to realize that television buffs like dictating their own viewing cycles.

It's an ironic switch. Video gaming is going primetime, just as primetime broadcasters are going 24/7.

This may also pose problems for video game retailers. How happy can GameStop (NYSE:GME) be that Microsoft's Primetime will offer fresh digitally delivered gaming experiences?

Primetime is coming, and the affected companies better start getting ready.

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Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Disney, Netflix, and GameStop are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of all three consoles but finds himself spending way too much time with the family on the Wii at the moment. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story, save for Netflix and Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy, always there to make sure that Fools don't overheat.