Microsoft is partnering with Hollywood talent including Seth Green, Sarah Silverman, and Michael Cera as it prepares an onslaught of original programming set to arrive on Xbox beginning in June. Green's Stoopid Buddy Stoodios will produce a stop-motion animated show not unlike Robot Chicken. Cera and Silverman are working together on a sketch comedy show through their JASH comedy network; the YouTube channel has gained over one million subscribers thanks to involvement from other comedians like Reggie Watts and Tim and Eric. Just today, Xbox Entertainment Studios and UK broadcaster Channel 4 announced a partnership to co-produce sci-fi drama Humans — set to debut sometime in 2015.
The summer of Xbox shows is coming
If it sounds like Microsoft's programming portfolio is growing quickly, that's because it is. Production is off and running on six shows, and Microsoft plans to take on Netflix and Hulu with its original content beginning in June. Bloomberg reports that the company is actively developing "more than a dozen" projects. There's reason for the aggressive push: Microsoft is getting a late start compared to its competitors. Netflix already has established hits like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, and Amazon is clearly determined to make its own flavor of programming a success.
But a late arrival doesn't mean Microsoft is afraid to experiment. "For our platform, if someone comes and says, "I have a great animated series that I think it can go for 11 minutes," or 10 minutes or we see something that really only should be 9 minutes, that's all it needs to be," said Nancy Tellem, who leads Microsoft's entertainment and digital media division, in an interview with Bloomberg.
Microsoft is getting off to a late start
Microsoft previously announced a Halo TV series produced by Steven Spielberg. Its other endeavors include Every Street United, a reality series based on street soccer, and Street Dreams, a half-hour series loosely based on rapper Nas' early career in New York City. The company also plans to stream the annual Bonnaroo musical festival in June.
Since Microsoft's shows will be directly tied to gaming consoles, the company is trying to come up with new and unique ways of making video content feel more interactive. According to Bloomberg, Every Street United will allow users to "unlock" extra scenes and play mini-games during the show. Humans will go a different route, offering fans a way "to follow what happens to characters outside the show’s plot."