On December 19th, Xbox Entertainment Studios announced an original documentary series that will debut exclusively on Xbox in 2014. It seems like the thin line between Technology and Media has evaporated to the point where there is no longer a discernible divide at all. Last year we saw media giants like Netflix producing original content like House of Cards (13 episodes – cost 100M) that skipped traditional broadcast channels to reach the consumer directly. This proved phenomenally successful and Netflix will release House of Cards season 2 in February 2014.
Now the gaming devices, which already act as portals to over the top services like Netflix, are getting involved in original television production. Microsoft has already announced plans to populate Xbox Live with original TV series, including a Halo series executive produced by Steven Spielberg. Also, two-time Academy Award-winning producer Simon Chinn (Searching for Sugar Man and Man on Wire), Emmy-winning producer Jonathan Chinn (American High), and writer Zak Penn (The Avengers, X-Men 2, The Incredible Hulk) have signed a deal to create a documentary series “Digital Evolution” for Xbox.
The trend is on. Tech companies are looking to draw attention and consumer subscription dollars by providing quality original content. Ask any teenager what TV shows he or she likes and you’ll see where the trend is going. You’ll likely get a list of favorites watched on Netflix, AMC (Mad Men, Breaking Bad) or HBO (Game of Thrones). There is a growing thirst for innovative, top quality shows and with the ever increasing number of ways to view content, the cream is rising to the top.
At the end of the day this should be good news for TV enthusiasts. More content creators jumping on board means more variety of programming to choose from, but it’s yet to be seen what level these new shows will be on. Television programming is quickly becoming the new Film. Why watch a two-hour long blockbuster like Titanic, Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean’s, or Avatar, when you can watch characters and their stories truly unfold in a 10 to 12 hours long series. No wonder Microsoft, Xbox, AMC, HBO, Netflix are in for the take.