Microsoft Announces Original Television Programming for Xbox

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By: Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)

Microsoft is getting into the original programming game by revealing they are developing television shows specifically through the Xbox.

Although they have been rumored to move in this direction for about a year now, they have just now unveiled their plan to produce twelve original shows, dubbed Xbox Originals. The programs will include documentaries, scripted dramas, comedies, and reality shows. It will be targeted toward young male consumers who might buy consoles from Microsoft rivals Sony or Nintendo if Microsoft perhaps couldn’t draw them in with their games and entertainment offerings; however, they will appeal to non-gamers and attempt to bring them into the Xbox fold.

The Xbox Originals will be commissioned by Microsoft but produced by outside companies and will only be available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, and other Xbox devices. What will set these shows apart from other original programming like that of Netflix, though, is the implementation of interactive elements.

Microsoft is still developing ways to incorporate that technology, but at a press event announcing the project, Nancy Tellem, President of Xbox Entertainment Studios, said, “As we’re going through the development process, we always involve our interactive team to see what we can create that’s organic to the piece and that we hope will resonate. It starts with premium content and good content that’s entertaining and engaging. To add interactive features such as adding that social community and being able to communicate in real-time with others who are actually watching. We’re working right now on time-shifted comments. Because it’s a video-on-demand platform, comments that come in about the show, when you watch it’ll be as if it’s happening while you watch and you can participate in them as well.

“We’re in the early stages. This is not a situation of building tons of features and assuming that the audience will necessarily engage or know how to engage. As you’ll see, the key is making sure that whatever we’re developing is intuitive and creates frictionless interactivity with what you’re watching.”

Check out descriptions of what’s to come from Microsoft as reported by Entertainment Weekly:

COMMITTED

Halo TV series
Steven Spielberg is executive-producing this live-action TV series based on the Halo game franchise.

Every Street United TV series
This unscripted 8-episode series explores eight countries, ranging from Argentina to South Korea, to find talented and unknown street soccer stars, ending in a one-hour finale featuring a 4v4 street game.

Bonnaroo
In the past, you had to travel to Tennessee to experience Bonnaroo, but this summer Xbox owners will be able to see what’s going on at the music and arts festival on their very own TVs. The festival will stream live from June 13 to June 15 and will also include interactive features like switching between stages and finding friends actually at the festival.

Signal to Noise
Signal to Noise will be a six-part documentary series produced by Searching for Sugar Man and Man on Wire producer Simon Chinn and Emmy-winning producer Jonathan Chinn that looks at the ways technology has shaped our relationship with the world. Atari: Game Over is the first film in the series, and it chronicles the myth (that we know now is not a myth) that Atari buried the E.T. video game in New Mexico after it got a negative response from customers.

Humans
Based on Swedish series Real Humans, this drama follows a family and their interactions with an eerie gadget called a “Synth” that acts as a robotic servant.

Halo Digital Feature
This feature will be executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Battlestar Galactica director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan.

IN DEVELOPMENT

Deadlands
Multiple genres converge into one in Deadlands, as it combines zombies, sorcerers, and mad scientists in this “Weird West”-set show based on the game of the same name.

Extraordinary Believers
Stoopid Buddy Stoodies, the creators of Adult Swim success Robot Chicken, is involved with the creation of the stop-motion show.

Fearless
This adrenaline-filled unscripted series will follow an Australian Navy bomb clearance diver (and shark attack survivor!) as he goes around the world helping other individuals who risk their lives for the betterment of the world.

Gun Machine
Based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name by Warren Ellis, this show is being executive produced by Ellis himself and Brett Conrad of The Killing and Sons of Anarchy fame.

Untitled JASH Comedy/Variety Half Hour
JASH is a comedy collective created by Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim and Eric, and Reggie Watts, and this show will focus on who famous comedians look to when they need a laugh. Silverman will host the first episode.

Winterworld
This live-action series will be based on Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino’s graphic novel series Winterworld where the world, well, finds itself in an intense globe-wide winter. Those who survive the ice age form tribes that will do whatever it takes to make it through their new ice-covered world.


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