EXCLUSIVE: Microsoft is taking a major step towards growing its entertainment footprint. I’ve learned that the software giant is in talks with former top CBS TV executive and now CBS consultant Nancy Tellem for a high level post, in which she would lead Microsoft’s expanded efforts in entertainment. Details on the position are still sketchy as I hear negotiations are still in early stages and an agreement is probably several weeks away, but it is believed to be a broad position overseeing creative and business partnerships as well as the production of original content across Microsoft platforms, including the flagship Xbox Live game and video service. Tellem would not comment.
Microsoft had been toying with the idea of a bigger entertainment presence for awhile and began quietly looking for an entertainment executive late last year when it hired Tom Schneider, a partner at Stratis LLC, to conduct a search. Microsoft aimed high, going primarily after top-level TV executives, with Marc Graboff, Peter Liguori, Jeff Gaspin and Brian Graden said to be among those considered for the role. (Graboff has since taken the helm of CORE Media, form. CKX) Because of its hefty goals, Microsoft reportedly didn’t set a timeline for the hire or didn’t even commit to necessarily getting someone on board, making it contingent on finding the right person.
I hear Tellem, which has been on headhunters’ list for virtually every high-level TV job for … Read More »
The people behind Microsoft’s console say that owners now spend more time using it for entertainment than they do for multiplayer games. And today they hope to add momentum to their effort to turn the device into a home entertainment hub by introducing voice-controlled apps for Comcast’s Xfinity TV, HBO GO, and MLB.TV. XBox users who also subscribe to the services will be able to access Comcast’s On-Demand library, HBO programming, and a choice of home or away feeds of baseball game broadcasts (subject to local blackout restrictions).
The announcements come as Comcast fends off attacks from public interest advocates who say that its video transmissions to XBox users violate net neutrality rules. The time that Comcast cable customers spend watching video ported through the XBox doesn’t count against against their broadband data caps. “The Xbox 360 provides a number of video services to compete for customer dollars, yet only one service is not counted against the data cap — the one provided by Comcast,” says Public Knowledge CEO Gigi Sohn. ”This is nothing less than a wake-up call to the Commission to show it is serious about protecting the Open Internet.” But Comcast says the critics are mistaken. Video feeds to its subscribers who have an XBox travel over Comcast’s traditional cable TV system, not the open Internet. “Your Xbox 360 essentially acts as an additional cable box for your existing cable service,” the company says. ”As a result, our data usage … Read More »
Microsoft’s making progress with its effort to turn its Xbox gaming console into the central brain for home entertainment. The company said Monday that it has an agreement with News Corp which will provide apps this year to funnel content from Fox Broadcasting, Fox News, and The Wall Street Journal to customers of the XBox Live service — with security to ensure that only pay TV customers see the cable programming. In addition, Microsoft has an arrangement to offer video from Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand, and a deal with Verizon FiOS to create a program guide app. The announcements were part of Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer’s keynote presentation to the 2012 International CES — supposedly his last annual infomercial address to the consumer electronics gathering. With help from American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest, he used the occasion to lay out his vision of a home where people make voice commands to the Xbox to find and call up TV programs, and use its Kinect motion control sensor to interact with TV characters. “We invest for the long term and make exciting things happen,” he said. The company demonstrated its interactive TV capability with Kinect Sesame Street TV; for example, kids can pretend they’re tossing objects that the show’s characters catch, and view themselves on screen engaging with the action. Read More »
Xbox 360, which in October announced a slew of content deals via Xbox Live designed to make the console a one-stop set-top box to control everything entertainment from video games to music to film to TV, announced today that the first of those agreements will kick off tomorrow — along with some pretty cool bells and whistles. The biggest is a deal with sister Microsoft service Bing to offer voice-controlled search via Xbox’s Kinect, through which users can look for content on the service. The news comes just in time for the holidays, and existing Xbox owners get the upgrade for free. Here’s the list of content partners and their premiere dates, from Microsoft’s release today:
Xbox 360 is building on its expansive catalog of movies, sports, television and music available through Hulu Plus, Last.fm, Netflix, Zune music and video and ESPN®, as well as on its existing lineup of great TV providers, such as AT&T U-verse® TV in the U.S., TELUS in Canada, BSkyB in the U.K., CANAL+ in France, Vodafone Portugal, VimpelCom in Russia and FOXTEL in Australia, by also now rolling out the following new entertainment partners and apps**:
EPIX. United States
ESPN on Xbox LIVE (ESPN). United States
Hulu Plus. United States
LOVEFiLM. United Kingdom
Netflix. Canada, United States
Premium Play by (MediaSet). Italy
Sky Go (SkyDE). Austria, Germany
Telefonica Espana – Movistar Imagenio. Spain
TODAY (MSNBC). United States
Later in December:
4 on Demand (C4). United Kingdom
ABC iView (Australian Broadcasting Corp.). Australia
AlloCine. France (AlloCine), Germany
… Read More »
Xbox Live, the premium online service of Microsoft’s Xbox 360, today unveiled a slew of content deals that will boost the console’s entertainment offerings beginning around the holidays and in more than 20 countries. The news began leaking last week of partnerships, but the announcement included more than 40 providers like Bravo, Comcast, HBO GO, Verizon FiOS and Syfy in the U.S. and international partners like BBC in the UK. The ultimate goal is to make Microsoft’s video game console a one-stop shop for entertainment where users can switch easily between video games, DVDs and entertainment content. Here’s the release: Read More »
Cable companies are looking to put their services on multiple platforms to keep customers happy (and around) and Xbox Live is looking to boost entertainment offerings to compete against console rivals like Sony’s PlayStation 3, so this makes sense. If true, Comcast’s Xfinity TV and Verizon’s FiOS could be accessed by subscribers to the pay TV services on Microsoft’s premium Xbox 360 platform, which costs $60 a year. Microsoft also is talking with HBO, Sony’s Crackle streaming service, Bravo and Syfy and Lovefilm UK among others about content deals and could announce expanded offerings next week, the Bloomberg report says. Xbox Live already offers access to entertainment offerings via Netflix, Hulu and AT&T’s U-verse. It’s all part of the bigger fight to become the ultimate Web-connected console — one that users can use to navigate between playing video games and watching DVDs and TV while surfing the Internet — that pits devices like Xbox 360 not only against PS3s but also set-top boxes like DVRs, TiVo, Roku and Apple TV.