If Microsoft never followed up on their plans to bring television shows to their consoles, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise, nor the first time a game company promised something and then never mentioned it again.
Speaking to Variety, however, Microsoft’s Nancy Tellem, Entertainment & Digital Media President, has given the content a second quarter deadline, stating that her digital entertainment group is hoping to “be able to put something up in the first quarter, at minimum second quarter.”
Following Netflix into the television production fold, Microsoft announced at E3 earlier this year that it would be creating original television-style content for the Xbox platforms (both 360 and One), announcing Halo: The Television Series in particular, with Steven Spielberg attached as producer.
Since then, we haven’t heard much of anything; any kind of news is a big deal, and putting the content firmly in the first half of the year is a good sign that the shows are an important focus for Microsoft in its attempt to own every part of the living room.
The interview with Tellem, a veteran of CBS and The CW networks, also went into some of the decisions she and her group will have to make in the upcoming months. Explaining to more traditional studios where Xbox fits in has been difficult.
“We aren’t Netflix, we aren’t Amazon, we’re a different animal,” she told Variety. Finding the fine line between too much and too little interactivity is an important part of the process, she explained. Figuring out where television shows fit into the Xbox Live business model is another decision they’ll have to face sooner rather than later as well.
With nearly 50 million Xbox Live subscribers, and almost 80 million Xbox consoles sold, it’s going to become harder and harder for studios to deny the subscriber base’s value. It’s daring for them to start out with Halo, as much as it is logical, too. It’s the company’s biggest property, and starting with it sets the company up for success or failure in the television space – nothing in between.
It’ll be interesting to see where Microsoft takes these plans and now we know we don’t have to wait until next fall, but only six or even three months.