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As part of Microsoft’s plan to transform the Xbox into an entertainment platform, the company has hired former CBS TV executive Nancy Tellem to head up its original content efforts.
Tellem will be responsible for creating original video content as well as interactive video for the Xbox 360 game console, according to a New York Times report that cites unnamed people familiar with the matter. The official announcement should happen later today, the report indicates.
We’re reaching out to Microsoft for confirmation, and will update the post with any new information.
Microsoft is hardly the only company that’s trying to boost the level of original content on its service. Netflix was the first to make a big splash with original content, producing original TV shows like Lillyhammer, and resurrecting cult-comedy Arrested Development for a new season. Amazon is also forging ahead with original content, having set up its own lineup of TV programs that will exclusively be available through the company’s Prime streaming video service.
Microsoft seems keenly aware that consumers are willing to pay top dollar for quality original shows that can’t be see elsewhere. (For example, only being able to get HBO and Showtime through a cable provider.) The Xbox already has plenty of content partners, including YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, SyFy, ESPN, and many others. So, adding its own batch of original shows to the mix might persuade more people to continue using the Xbox for their video watching rather than other set-top boxes (Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, Google TV, etc.).
Not only that, but original video content could take full advantage of Microsoft’s NU ads technology, which uses the Kinect motion sensing controls that allow viewers to interact with commercials.
Of course, it all comes down to how good the original content is. If it’s weak, it won’t do much of anything for Microsoft’s strategy of making the Xbox the top entertainment platform. Hiring Tellem, a seasoned TV exec, clearly means Microsoft wants to ensure its content is up to par with others.