Ahead of its
scheduled NewFronts presentation on Monday afternoon, Microsoft announced a major move into original programming.
Xbox Originals, so-called, range from a “Halo” TV series
to a live broadcast of the Bonnaroo music festival to a soccer-focused reality series "Every Street United."
Produced by its own Xbox Entertainment Studios, Microsoft plans to start
rolling out its Originals in June. The offerings will only be available via Xbox 360, Xbox One, and other Microsoft devices.
Hardly unfamiliar territory, the broad content initiative
is merely an extension of what Microsoft Studios has been doing for years with first-party game development, according to Jordan Levin, EVP of Xbox Entertainment Studios.
“Microsoft has a long and rich legacy in the content business,” Levin stated. “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.”
Based on the hugely popular video game, the live-action “Halo” TV series is being produced by Steven Spielberg, with the help of
343 Industries and Amblin Television.
343 Industries and Scott Free Productions are also creating a "Halo" digital feature to be released later this year. The project will be
executive produced by Ridley Scott and Scott Free TV President, David Zucker.
“Every Street United” is an unscripted series of eight, 30-minute episodes and a one-hour
finale, featuring soccer stars Thierry Henry and Edgar Davids. The show -- focused on a global search for soccer’s most gifted and undiscovered street stars -- culminates in July in a street
game finale in the shadow of the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. Emmy-Award winning producer, director, writer and editor Jonathan Hock is directing, while Emmy-Award winning producer Mike Tollin and
Mandalay Sports Media are executive producing the series.
In partnership with Superfly Presents, Xbox owners will be given access to a live stream of the 13th annual Bonnaroo music
and arts festival, in mid-June. With a Bonnaroo app, fans will be able to view various performances and concert stages.
Xbox is also creating a new six-film documentary series with
the working title “Signal to Noise.” With the help of Academy Award-winning producer Simon Chinn and Emmy-winning producer Jonathan Chinn, the series will focus on modern technology, and
how it has radically altered the way people interact with our world.
Separately, “Humans” is a new drama co-produced with UK broadcaster Channel 4, UK production company Kudos.
The hour-long, eight-episode series -- which will share a premiere broadcast window on the Xbox platform and Channel 4 in the UK in 2015 -- is an English-language adaptation of Sveriges Television and
Matador Film’s acclaimed Swedish series, “Real Humans.”
Xbox Entertainment Studios also has a number of projects in development, including “Deadlands,”
which is based on the pen-and-paper role playing game created by Shane Lacy Hensley, and a stop-motion show with the working title, “Extraordinary Believers.”