Microsoft’s next move in the fight for the living room? Original video on Xbox 360. The game machine already allows players to download some TV shows and movies, but now Microsoft has ordered up original shows for its Xbox Live, via a deal with producer Peter Safran.
Original video is a departure for Xbox, and represents another Redmond attempt to deepen ties with Hollywood’s creative community. Hollywood producers will no doubt welcome another deep-pocketed buyer; the last time Microsoft (MSFT) tried original programming a decade ago it burned $100 million on Web shows for MSN Originals, the NY Times said.
This time the budgets will be small, and production more Web-like. Safran, who represents Sean “Diddy” Combs and produced “Scary Movie” as president of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, said he would cast celebrities “well-known to the Xbox community” in the shows. COO of Safran Digital Group is Jake Zim, former vice president of online for Fox’s youth market film studio, Fox Atomic.
The shows will be under 10 minutes, and may be ad-supported or paid downloads. The deal with Safran is non-exclusive, and Microsoft signaled this is just the first. “We definitely look at this as the first of many,” Scott Nocas, global marketing officer for Xbox, said.
We don’t think it will hurt Microsoft to buy a handful of video clips for the Xbox, but we’re not sure how much good it will do, either — gamers buy these consoles for the games, and video and anything else is secondary. That said, now that Sony’s (SNE) won the next-gen DVD war with Blu-ray, Microsoft can use any help it can get to battle the PS3.