Microsoft’s Xbox division this morning provided new details about its plans for original TV shows on the game console, including a comedy sketch show involving Sarah Silverman; a stop motion show involving Seth Green and the creators of the Robot Chicken franchise; and a robot-themed drama called “Humans” to be developed and broadcast in partnership with the UK’s Channel 4.
But here’s the bigger question: Does new CEO Satya Nadella have the patience for this Hollywood stuff? “Very much,” says Nancy Tellem, the former CBS Television Studios leader who now heads up Microsoft’s own entertainment and digital media initiatives.
In an interview airing this morning on Bloomberg TV, Tellem says that Nadella “understands that Xbox is a very important consumer facing brand and he understands it is essential to the growth of the other aspects of Microsoft’s business. I heard nothing but very positive support with the realization that it is going to take some time to grow the studio.”
It’s an important question given that Nadella comes from the enterprise side of the business, previously heading up Microsoft’s cloud computing and server division.
As noted by Bloomberg News in this accompanying story, Microsoft’s board is also becoming more enterprise-oriented with the addition of ValueAct Capital, which reportedly wants the company to focus more on corporate software and services. Investors have called in the past for Microsoft to spin off the Xbox and Bing businesses, but that doesn’t appear to be in the cards.
The new Xbox shows are expected to start rolling out in June. Microsoft is a latecomer to original content, competing against other tech companies including Netflix and Amazon, which have already been airing their shows, with great success in the case of Netflix.
Tellem tells Bloomberg that Microsoft will focus first on its core gamer audience. Projects in development include a “Halo” series produced in partnership with Steven Spielberg.
“We aren’t trying to find something that’s going to be accepted by the largest common denominator, which is what a lot of people in the business look for,” Tellem says. “We’re focused on what we feel our audience on our platform wants.”