Microsoft’s nightclub-themed NewFront presentation in a warehouse-like space in New York’s Penn Station focused on the developments from Xbox Entertainment Studios. Likely in response to complaints that Microsoft has been too slow to move in this area, Xbox Entertainment Studios president, Nancy Tellem, — charged with delivering premium TV content — told the audience of hundreds of advertising industry movers and shakers that “building something substantial is going to take time.”
Xbox Originals content that will be coming out of Xbox Entertainment Studios is aimed primarily at gamers and to create television experiences that are extensions of the Xbox gaming environment. Jordan Levin, Executive Vice President of Xbox Entertainment Studios, said, “Games have been part of our DNA for at least the last 15 years, and creating original TV content is a logical next step in our evolution.”
Microsoft did not have any previews of its “Halo” series executive produced by Stephen Spielberg, but it did unveil some interesting experiments in interactive video. The film “Possibilia,” for example, lets viewers take control of how the story of a couple breaking up progresses by selecting a widening array of scenes.
Tellem stressed they have the funding to succeed in bringing premium TV experiences that audiences want to interact with on a global level a reality. Microsoft faces stiff competition from other well-financed companies including Netflix, Amazon, Google and Yahoo, not to mention Sony’s gaming console.
Some of the content on deck from Xbox include an unscripted series titled “Every Street United,” a global search for soccer’s most talented undiscovered street stars scouted eight countries timed to coincide with the World Cup this summer and livestreaming of the concert extravaganza Bonnarro this summer. Users will be able to choose which live performances they want to watch and interact with others via the Bonnarroo app.
While much of the focus was on Xbox consoles, it’s worth noting that Xbox Originals content can also be viewed on Windows 8 devices (PC and Surface) and Windows Phone 8. Stephen Kim, VP, Global Agencies & Accounts, kicked off the presentation by saying no other company has the reach and broadcast capability across devices and platforms, but despite the “Beyond The Box” theme, the connection was not made clear throughout the presentations that these shows will also have mobile reach.