Home » Cloud Computing strategy » Microsoft entertainment as an affordable premium offering to be built on the basis of the Xbox console and Xbox LIVE services

Microsoft entertainment as an affordable premium offering to be built on the basis of the Xbox console and Xbox LIVE services

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OR create interactive content as a premium offering together with partners using Kinect technology as a starter OR moving Microsoft Xbox 360 to ‘entertainment console’ OR leaving the good quality commodities to others and going for a premium brand with Xbox as well OR Xbox 360 and Microsoft’s Gaming Future – D: Dive Into Media [WSJDigitalNetwork YouTube channel, Feb 12, 2013]

[04:26] “Our focus is to really transition [Microsoft’s Xbox] to an entertainment device,” Nancy Tellem said Monday at All Things D’s D: Dive Into Media in Laguna Niguel, Calif. “We have thousands of movies, sports events, live events.” [04:34]
[05:14] “We’re looking at a whole variety of types of content. What I call it premium, which is aligned with HBO and Showtime quality, networking cable quality” she said. “Then, of course we’re looking at alternative, reality, live events. All of the premium. It’s a premium service. Also we are looking at each content as what it would be best. Whether in format, whether in time. So we are not constrained in the same way traditional media distribution companies are, having to produce something at certain length. We have 46 million global users all connected. With all the premium service we offer may be behind, being part of the the membership.” [06:05]
In addition to producing content internally, Tellem said she was also looking at partnering with “traditional media partners, studios and creatives.”
“[The] Xbox brand stands for the best, most interactive, most amazing entertainment you can get,” Yusuf Mehdi said, comparing it to low-cost media streamers like the Roku. [08:35] “Our current and future investment is about doing the things that are big and premium. Let really do things that are amazing for customers.” [08:43]
Would you become a pay-TV provider? [09:18] “For questions like this it always goes back to what do we feel we can really be best in the world we are doing, what’s our value add” he said. “Our value add is not being another distributor of content that comes from many good sources today, it’s about adding that level of interactivity, creativity, fidelity that makes it come alive.” [09:36]
[12:46] Nancy Tellem: “I think one of the perfect example of more live events as you’re looking at, this is more hypothetical as obviously we’re not there yet,  but certainly if you do a comedy show, and you can actually from a transactional standpoint know where the comedians going to be performing, buy tickets, that’s an example.  You can also, not just from a Twitter standpoint, but actually share with your friends, actually experience it together.  He or she may be on the other side of the United States or in anthor country, Ireland or wherever, that’s kind of the real time experience that really is quite unique. We’ve already done a joint venture with Sesame Street where from children’s programming the kids can actually interact with the video itself and have a real interactive experience with …” [13:50]
She saw episodes ranging from as short as 10 minutes to an hour and a half, multiple episodes being produced, and using Xbox’s interactive capabilities, be it the voice-and-gesture-enabled Kinect or the second-screen SmartGlass app.

Xbox Execs Talk Momentum and the Future of TV [Microsoft feature story, Feb 11, 2013]

Living room entertainment is in its largest evolutionary period since the transitions of black-and-white to color, and from standard definition to high definition. The Xbox 360, alongside Microsoft’s entertainment industry partners, is at the forefront of that evolution as one of the only devices that brings all forms of entertainment together in one device, while making access to content easy and providing new ways to interact with existing programming. In 2012, the amount of TV and other entertainment offerings on Xbox almost tripled, now surpassing 100 custom, voice-controlled TV and entertainment apps on Xbox LIVE.
“Yes, we started with video games, but we have been on a journey to make Xbox the center of every household’s entertainment,” says Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business.
Today Mehdi, along with Nancy Tellem, president of entertainment and digital media at Microsoft, participated in a D: Dive into Media session, facilitated by Peter Kafka, to discuss that journey and the opportunities that lie ahead. Mehdi revealed some new data that illustrates how entertainment usage on the Xbox has exploded during its living room transformation, and Tellem shared more about her newly created Los Angeles-based Xbox Entertainment Studios.
Today, there are more than 76 million Xbox 360 consoles around the world. That’s three times the number of original Xbox consoles sold. And a Kinect sensor now sits next to roughly one third of those Xbox 360 consoles; the company has sold 24 million Kinect sensors since launch.
Social has been an important part of Xbox from the beginning, and that’s true today more than ever. The Xbox LIVE community has grown to 46 million members, a 15 percent growth since last year.
2012 also marked the Xbox’s biggest year for entertainment and games usage. Users enjoyed more than 18 billion hours of entertainment in 2012, with entertainment app usage growing 57 percent year over year globally. Last year in the United States, Xbox LIVE Gold members averaged 87 hours per month on Xbox, an increase of 10 percent year over year.
Those numbers strongly indicate that consumers enjoy all kinds of entertainment via Xbox, and Mehdi believes the future of entertainment is even brighter, as Microsoft plans to keep the momentum rolling.
“We believe that Xbox is being used by more people in the household, during more hours in the day and for more forms of entertainment,” he says. “People are using Xbox in the morning to work out with the Kinect Nike+ Fitness program, kids are watching cartoons, families are enjoying movies, and of course people are playing blockbuster games like ‘Halo 4.’”
The Future of TV Is Interactive and More Engaging
According to Mehdi, Xbox has something in the living room no one else has – a large installed base of devices already in the home, connected to TVs, and over half of those are already linked together, delivering amazing personalized and social entertainment experiences via the Xbox LIVE network.
Microsoft believes that the future of TV and entertainment is one where the TV becomes interactive and more engaging, Mehdi and Tellem explain. Microsoft sees that viewers want to do more with their TV shows, movies, sports and other forms of entertainment.
“We believe that we are at the start of the next wave of truly interactive entertainment,” Tellem says.
Tellem is spearheading a new L.A.-based studio called Xbox Entertainment Studios, where the mission is to create true interactive content for Xbox and other devices that will change the way entertainment content is experienced and delivered. Tellem also now oversees live event programming for Xbox LIVE. Xbox has had success with live events such as the Elections 2012 Hub on Xbox LIVE, which aired the presidential debates with an added interactive polling capability. Viewers submitted 3 million answers to on-screen questions during the live telecast of one of the debates. More recently, Xbox aired an interactive red carpet experience for this year’s Grammy Awards and will be doing the same for the 85th Academy Awards.
“When I worked in traditional TV, we would find ourselves saying things like ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could add an interactive aspect directly into the show and engage directly with the viewers?’” says Tellem. “With Xbox, that is possible today.”
Xbox already offers content such Kinect Sesame Street TV, which blurs the lines between traditional linear TV show and interactive experience, where a kid can jump into their beloved Sesame Street and throw coconuts at Grover.
But it’s not just about new types of entertainment; it’s also about new business models and new engagement opportunities for advertisers. Mehdi called the launch of NUads a new ad format that harnesses Kinect and natural user interface an important moment for TV advertising. NUads deliver what is most scarce to advertisers today: consumer engagement. NUads enable natural interactivity using the simplicity of a spoken word or the wave of a hand. The first wave of NUads, which launched last fall with interactive polling, saw a record level of consumer engagement with 37 percent of people responding. With this model, passive TV advertising is transformed into engaging and actionable experiences.
Pioneering the Future of TV
In addition to Xbox Entertainment Studios creating content that will highlight what’s possible and demonstrate the capability of the Xbox platform, Microsoft will continue to partner with content creators, networks, aggregators and advertisers to “pioneer the future of TV,” says Tellem.
During 2013, Microsoft is planning to launch more than 40 new voice-controlled, customized TV and entertainment apps on Xbox.
“We want to partner with the industry to bring entertainment into a new era,” she says. “It’s an era when interactive entertainment becomes the greatest form of all entertainment – and we couldn’t be more excited to play a part in it.”

Will Next Gen Xbox Win With Premium Media Combo? [Breaking Analysis] [siliconangle YouTube, Feb 12, 2013]

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has been morphing from a gaming console to an entertainment console, and Microsoft intends to capitalize on that in its future Xbox consoles. Although Microsoft has not confirmed that a next gen Xbox is in the works, details have still been leaked about a new console. SiliconANGLE Contributing Editor John Casaretto shared his knowledge regarding the source of the leaks, a person by the name of SuperDaE. SuperDaE made headlines last year when he tried to sell a Durango development kit on eBay. Durango is allegedly the code name for the next gen Xbox project. Casaretto concluded, “He’s got a lot of information, a lot of it seems really poignant, and he’s a very credible source.” Casaretto named some of the new features of the new console, noting there are some interesting twists to them, such as the ability to run multiple games simultaneously, required game installations, and the compatiblity with a new, improved (and mandatory) Kinect sensor. He explained that some of the features that were previously optional are now unified into one grand Xbox. Microsoft’s senior VP of interactive entertainment, Yusuf Mehdi, claimed that the Xbox 360 is transitioning from a gaming console to an entertainment before their eyes. Casaretto believes this is a natural evolution and expects to see more gaming, more video content, and even more shopping coming through the Xbox, turning it into a genuine family entertainment center. He predicted, “I think we’ll see this symbiosis of entertainment and gaming, and this will apply to Nintendo and Sony as well. They’ll certainly follow suit.” There is also some speculation that Microsoft will expand its popular monthly subscription service, Xbox Live, to include original shows, just as Amazon and Netflix have done. Casaretto stated that their success in this area will depend on the type of content they put out. He said if they’re trying to make completely original shows, such as sitcoms, it could easily turn into a money pit very quickly in trying to keep up with other popular shows out there. However, if it’s in alignment with game releases and other events, he said it’s possible Microsoft could be right on the money with this expansion idea, but it will take some time to establish their presence in this space. Likewise, in other new media TV developments, Intel Media has confirmed they are currently working to launch internet television this year. The Verge reported that Intel Media plans to provide “live television, catch-up television, on-demand [and] a set of applications.” Their hardware package will include a set-top box and a camera, which could be used for synchronized viewing with other viewers across the country. Casaretto observed that Microsoft has been very quiet about their new branding strategy with Xbox. He reminded viewers that Sony is expected to say something about their new Playstation soon, and he believes Microsoft is waiting to key off of Sony’s announcement. See the entire segment with Kristin Feledy and John Casaretto on the Morning NewsDesk Show.

See also:
Xbox LIVE Turns 10: A Decade of Entertainment [Microsoft feature story, Nov 15, 2012]
The New Entertainment Experience From Xbox [xbox YouTube channel, Oct 25, 2012]

The biggest blockbuster games, movies and music that go where you go, your favorite sports in one place, and your Nike personal trainer at home

Xbox Music [xbox YouTube channel, Oct 14, 2012]

All the music you love, every way you want it — Xbox Music. http://www.xbox.com/music

To understand the outstanding leadership in that Microsoft entertainment effort see this earlier Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi at MIXX 2009 [IABtv YouTube channel, Oct 8, 2009] presentation:

Yusuf Mehdi provides a rarely-seen demonstration of a truly interactive home office powered by Microsoft Touch—complete with voice detection, touch screens and surface computing capabilities.

Xbox Beyond the Box [The Official Microsoft Blog, May 29, 2012]

Next week, the Xbox team heads to Los Angeles for E3. Having recently joined the team, I have the benefit of fresh perspective, and one of the things that has struck me is the amount of opportunities we have ahead.
Before joining Xbox, I had the fortune of being a part of some incredible periods of innovation and incubation such as in the early days of Windows and Internet Explorer, and, more recently, with the creation of Bing. I have also had a great passion for gaming and entertainment, and watched the growth of MSN into one of the world’s largest media sites on the Internet.
Similar to many of those experiences, the Xbox has arrived at an important inflection point in its growth and development. In particular, in the last year, the Xbox has transcended from a gaming console to a broad entertainment device inclusive of movies, TV, music and sports. I will give you an example of what that means.
A few weeks back, my family and I decided to escape a rainy Sunday afternoon by watching a movie. The need for indoor entertainment in Seattle in May is (sadly) no surprise, but what really struck me was the way my son went about finding a movie. After my children finished a heated rock-paper-scissors battle to determine who got to choose what we would watch, my son sprinted to the Xbox 360. He didn’t first turn on the TV or go to our relatively hefty collection of DVDs. For him, the Xbox is now the gateway to what he wants to watch.
Now, my household may be a little biased, but my son isn’t alone. Xbox will always mean games, but for tens of millions of people around the globe, it also means music, TV, movies and more. Xbox LIVE subscribers now spend an average of 84 hours per month on the console. For comparison, the average American watches a little more than 150 hours of TV in the same period. The more entertainment options we add, the more time people spend on Xbox. In the last six months, we’ve grown our entertainment library on Xbox to include more than 60 voice controlled applications and more than 200,000 premium movies and TV shows.
As a result of people engaging with Xbox more frequently for more entertainment activities, we have been able to defy gravity compared to where consoles traditionally are at this point in their lifecycle. Sales for Xbox 360 in year five were greater than in year four, sales in year six were greater than in year five, and sales in year seven were greater than in year six.
Since 2005—when we launched Xbox 360—we have sold 67 million consoles and have generated more than $56 billion at retail, and we’re still going strong in our seventh year. With 47 percent share of the current-generation console market in the U.S., we are hitting our stride largely as a result of the success of Kinect for Xbox 360 (19 million sold worldwide) and the flood of new entertainment options through Xbox LIVE (40 million members worldwide).
To date, our success with Xbox has been led by a box in the living room. Moving forward, Xbox will go beyond the box to reach all new families of devices. Just as Xbox has grown to mean more than just games, it also is more than just a console. This year, Xbox becomes the premium entertainment service for Microsoft. Whether on your PC, tablet, TV or phone, Xbox will be a gateway to the best in music and video, your favorite games and instant access to your friends. With the launch of Windows 8, we’ll bring Xbox entertainment to everyone. With Xbox on Windows 8 devices, we rapidly accelerate the reach of Xbox entertainment from more than 60 million people to hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
We understand that entertainment has become a multi-screen experience where you and your friends are watching TV, listening to music, and playing games while interacting with your tablets and phones in new ways. We’ve got ideas for making all the entertainment you love more personal, interactive and social across the devices you love—and on the phenomenal Windows 8 devices that are to come.
You’ll see the first of that next week at E3 where we will showcase the very best of Xbox. We’ll unveil new games, show new ways to enjoy the entertainment you love and, as always, we’ll have a few surprises to share!
We can’t wait. We kick things off on Monday, June 4 at 9:30 a.m. PT. You can watch us on live TV though our partnership with Spike TV, on the Web (Xbox.com), and for the first time ever – on Xbox LIVE.
Posted by Yusuf Mehdi
Chief Marketing Officer, Interactive Entertainment Division, Microsoft

Introducing the New Entertainment Experience from Xbox [The Official Microsoft Blog, Oct 22, 2012]

Below is a post from Yusuf Mehdi, Chief Marketing Officer for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Division, announcing details about a major new update to the Xbox dashboard and the launch of Xbox SmartGlass, which brings games, music, TV and movie experiences off the console and onto your phone, tablet and PC.

Steve Ballmer recently stated that 2012 will be “the most epic year in Microsoft’s history.”
Not only do we have major releases coming to the PC, tablet and phone, but we have worked extremely hard to ensure those screens work together with the other major screen in peoples’ lives, the television. People often call out the role Microsoft design style is playing in this new wave of experiences from the company. Whether you are using a phone, PC, tablet or console that is running our software you have an experience that is distinctively Microsoft, elegant, intuitive and integrated.
Now, there is another common thread that ties all of these experiences together – Xbox entertainment.
Today marks the beginning of two major launches for Xbox entertainment.
First, on top of what is the greatest year for games in Xbox history, beginning today a brand new update will roll out broadly for every Xbox 360 owner in the world that brings entirely new TV entertainment experiences. We are bringing the Web to the TV like never before with Internet Explorer, launching a brand new music service, and making it even easier to find the entertainment you love using Kinect and Bing voice search. This release is the next step in our journey to transform Xbox 360 from a games console to an all-in-one entertainment system.
Second, we are bringing Xbox Entertainment off the console to your phone, tablet and PC to deliver great games, music, TV and movie experiences. And as a part of this effort with Xbox SmartGlass we are going to introduce amazing multi-screen entertainment experiences.
Back in June, we talked about how this is the year Xbox becomes the premium entertainment service for Microsoft. While our success with Xbox to date has been led by a box in the living room, we’re now reaching individuals in new and exciting ways across PCs, tablets and phones. Xbox will be a gateway to the best in movies, TV shows, music, sports, your favorite games and instant access to your friends, wherever you are.
This week, with the launch of Windows 8, followed shortly thereafter by Windows Phone 8 devices, we’ll flip the switch on that transformation with the launches of four new experiences that make entertainment better on every screen in your life:
At that moment, we will rapidly accelerate the reach of Xbox entertainment from more than 67 million consoles to literally hundreds of millions of devices worldwide. Also this week, we will take our biggest step ever to increase our global reach, extending Xbox entertainment experiences to 222 countries from 35.


We realize some may ask, “Why are all these apps called Xbox, isn’t Xbox just a game console?” For us the decision to have Xbox stand for our broad entertainment efforts was a simple one. It is a natural evolution of our consumer offering. Even as Xbox has become the number one game console in the world, and continued to deliver arguably the best line up of games in our history, we have seen the use of Xbox broaden to watching TV/movies and listening to music.
During the last couple of years, we have grown our global entertainment portfolio to more than 62 TV and entertainment partners. Our Xbox LIVE subscribers now spend more time enjoying entertainment apps than multiplayer games. And this is occurring even when multiplayer gaming is also growing on our console.
Also, we live in a multi-device world. The millions of people enjoying entertainment on their Xbox are doing so within arm’s reach of another device. We believe your entertainment should travel seamlessly across devices, that devices should work together to make your entertainment more accessible and create entirely new experiences. We knew we needed a single name for all entertainment experiences from our company and nothing means entertainment at Microsoft more than Xbox.
Xbox SmartGlass is a great example of our approach to multi-screen entertainment. With SmartGlass we are focusing on two key objectives:
  1. Make discovering and controlling your entertainment simple, no matter the device you’re using; and
  2. Ensure you get more from your entertainment experience.
Xbox SmartGlass is a free downloadable app that takes your Windows 8 and RT tablets and PCs, Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android devices, and converts them into smart second screens for the entertainment you are enjoying through your Xbox.
Today, we are unveiling our first wave of experiences and partners for Xbox SmartGlass. They are the first of many to become available over the coming months.
Navigate your Entertainment – Your phone and tablet will become the best remote controls in your house. Use the touch screen on your smartphone or tablet to control your Xbox 360, and use your devices to pause, rewind or advance entertainment.
TV & Movies – With Xbox Video, start a TV show or movie on your Windows 8 tablet and finish it on the big screen through Xbox 360; see the names of cast and crew for the film you are watching and discover related films. To give you one example of what you can expect, coming next season, HBO GO’s “Game of Thrones” will offer groundbreaking Xbox SmartGlass experiences.
Sports – While watching the game, use a second screen to follow real-time stats, player bios, news and highlights you may have missed. All of this and more will be available for NBA Game Time, ESPN and UFC in the coming months.
Music – Control your Xbox Music experience on the TV using your smartphone or tablet, discover related artists and songs, cue up additional music, read artist bios and more.
Internet Explorer for Xbox – The Web comes to TV like never before with Xbox 360 and Xbox SmartGlass. With your smartphone or tablet, pan or pinch and zoom to explore the Web on the largest and best screen in the house, enjoy easy text entry with the keyboard on your tablet or phone, and then move your browser back to your device to take it on the go.
Games – Get more from your game when you can use a second screen. Turn you phone or tablet into a virtual GPS in Forza: Horizon. Don’t stop the dance party in Dance Central 3 by going back to the menu to choose your next song. Instead, queue it up on your tablet or smartphone. In HomeRun Stars, use SmartGlass on your favorite device to throw a surprise pitch to your friend up at bat in front of Kinect. See detailed stats on how you are progressing in Halo 4, or check up on friends. All of these features and much more will be available when your favorite game extends to multiple screens.
And we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. In the future, new games will be created, TV shows and movies will be re-imagined, and sports will be broadcast from the ground up with Xbox SmartGlass in mind.
Moreover, we are making it easier than ever to buy an Xbox 360 console. Starting this fall, we are rolling out the “Entertainment for All” pricing plan that enables you to buy an Xbox 360 for $99 when you sign up for 2 years of Xbox LIVE. Entertainment For All Plan will include U.S. retailers: Best Buy, GameStop, Walmart, Toys R Us and the Microsoft Store.
With these new technologies, services and pricing, Xbox entertainment has never been:
  • More simple and engaging
  • Available on so many new devices; and
  • More affordable.
So, yes, this is certainly an epic year for Microsoft. But more importantly, it’s an epic time for all of you that love amazing entertainment.

Then there is certainly Nancy Tellem:
Microsoft Names Longtime Entertainment Executive Nancy Tellem Entertainment & Digital Media President [Microsoft press release, Sept 18, 2012]

Microsoft Corp. today announced that Nancy Tellem, former president of CBS Network Television Entertainment Group, has joined Microsoft as Entertainment & Digital Media president.
In her role reporting to Phil Spencer, corporate vice president, Microsoft Studios, Tellem will oversee the launch of a newly created production studio in Los Angeles that will develop interactive and linear content for Xbox and other devices. In addition to running the production studio, she will help spearhead the company’s efforts to turn Xbox into a destination where consumers can enjoy all their entertainment in one place.
Tellem and her group will collaborate with the creative community to develop unique, compelling storytelling experiences for the Xbox brand. More than just a gaming console, Xbox has evolved into a consumer destination for the world’s most popular TV, movies, music and sports content. With a roster of more than 65 entertainment apps, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, MLB.TV, ESPN, YouTube and VEVO,global video consumption on Xbox LIVE has increased 140 percent during the past year. In addition, this September, Microsoft will introduce 2-way TV experiences from renowned entertainment partners Sesame Workshop and National Geographic that will further expand the Xbox platform beyond games, offering entertainment options for everyone in the family.
“I am excited to be a part of the continued evolution of Xbox from a gaming console to the hub of every household’s entertainment experience,” Tellem said. “The Xbox is already a consumer favorite, and we now have a tremendous opportunity to transform it into the center of all things entertainment — from games, music and fitness to news, sports, live events, television series and movies — so consumers have one destination for all their entertainment needs. I look forward to building a studio team that embraces the challenges of creating true interactive content that the Xbox platform supports and to work with talent to create content that will change the way entertainment content is experienced and delivered.”
“Whether you are voting for your favorite contestant on a TV show or playing a game, entertainment is becoming more personalized and social, driven by the Internet and new tools to interact with content,” Spencer said. “We are embarking on a new chapter with the creation of a studio dedicated to making original interactive and linear content, and I’m excited to have Nancy leading this effort.”
“With her impressive background in entertainment innovation, I am thrilled to have Nancy join our team,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business Group at Microsoft. “Under her direction, we look forward to building and extending our creative offerings from the living room to all your devices.”
Tellem has been a CBS executive since 1997, most recently as senior adviser to CEO Leslie Moonves, where she explored business and strategic opportunities — domestic and international — involving content partnerships, new production models, emerging media and technologies. As president of the CBS Network Television Entertainment Group, Tellem supervised programming, development, production, business affairs and operations. She oversaw the network’s prime-time, daytime, late-night and Saturday morning lineups (with shows like “CSI,” “Survivor,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The King of Queens”). Before joining CBS, Tellem was executive vice president of Business and Financial Affairs for Warner Bros. Television and was part of the team that launched the landmark programs “Friends” and “ER.”
In 2006, Tellem was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame for her contributions to the electronic arts. In 2008, Forbes ranked her 32nd on its list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” and Entertainment Weekly named her the third-smartest person in TV for quickly restoring CBS’s entire primetime lineup after the 100-day writers’ strike. That same year, the National Association of Television Program Executives awarded Tellem a Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award in recognition of her “extraordinary passion, leadership, independence and vision in the process of creating TV programming.”
About Xbox
Xbox is Microsoft’s premier entertainment service for the TV, phone, PC and tablet. It’s home to the best and broadest games, as well as one of the world’s largest libraries of music, movies, TV and sports. With Kinect, Xbox 360 transformed gaming and entertainment in the living room with a whole new way to play games and find entertainment — no controller required. More information about Xbox can be found online at http://www.xbox.com.

Nancy Tellem: Why Microsoft’s Looking for TV Hits on XBox Live (Q&A) [Hollywood Reporter, Jan 4, 2013]

The entertainment and digital media president on why she left CBS, how she’d handle Angus T. Jones and why she’s not into violent entertainment: “I don’t like blood.”
Nancy Tellem, who had been a consultant to CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves for nearly three years after stepping down as president of the CBS Network Television Entertainment Group in 2009, became entertainment and digital media president at Microsoft on Sept. 18. One of her primary mandates: to create a TV studio in Los Angeles during the next year, where she and her staff will make original content for the 40 million customers worldwide who subscribe to Xbox Live, which already features fare from Netflix, ESPN, HBO Go, Amazon Prime and other providers. Tellem, 58, a mother of three sons who is married to sports agent Arn Tellem — and who spends what little free time she has bicycling, reading and doing yoga — spoke with THR at her temporary office at Wasserman Media Group in Los Angeles.
Nancy Tellem, who had been a consultant to CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves for nearly three years after stepping down as president of the CBS Network Television Entertainment Group in 2009, became entertainment and digital media president at Microsoft on Sept. 18. One of her primary mandates: to create a TV studio in Los Angeles during the next year, where she and her staff will make original content for the 40 million customers worldwide who subscribe to Xbox Live, which already features fare from Netflix, ESPN, HBO Go, Amazon Prime and other providers. Tellem, 58, a mother of three sons who is married to sports agent Arn Tellem — and who spends what little free time she has bicycling, reading and doing yoga — spoke with THR at her temporary office at Wasserman Media Group in Los Angeles.
The Hollywood Reporter: Is it scary to move from traditional TV to a tech company?
Tellem: For me, it was a natural next step. I was always interested in where the next distribution platform was happening and was very engaged with talking to tech companies.
THR: Xbox Live already gives users access to tons of video. Why do you need original content?
Tellem: Incredible content really raises the brand — look at Mad Men with AMC. So original programming gives us an opportunity to kind of brand the Xbox. And looking at the technology the Xbox console provides, we are really a bit ahead of the more traditional media companies in having the ability to develop and produce interactive content.
THR: What types of shows do you plan to make?
Tellem: We’re looking at all forms of content for every member of the family. So that certainly covers live events, reality, game shows, documentaries and scripted comedy or drama. We’ll cover it all. We’re figuring this out as we go. But we certainly intend to produce things with high production value, with the same breadth of storytelling that you see on traditional TV.
THR: Interactive TV hasn’t taken off yet. What are you going to do differently to make it popular?
Tellem: We’ve all tried to produce multiplatform programming, but the difficulty has been that you don’t have the technology to support it. This is where Microsoft and Xbox are in a unique position. The technology is there, not only for the audience that just wants to watch passively, but also for those who want to engage the content more, whether by mobile, tablet or on TV.
THR: Will you be able to attract major TV talent to make shows for a tech company?
Tellem: I certainly hope so. I know that before my arrival, they were able to attract a certain level of great talent. I invite everyone to come and listen to what we want to do. There’s a great playground we have here.
THR: What agents and talent have you spoken with so far?
Tellem: I’m somewhat overwhelmed by the interest, but I can’t say.  It’s a little too early.
THR: Have you made any major hires yet?
Tellem: Not yet. We’re obviously taking advantage of all the existing people we have in Seattle, but at the same time we want to build a top-notch staff in L.A. for what will certainly be a full-fledged production studio.
THR: Why did you leave CBS?
Tellem: It’s probably the toughest decision I’ve made in my career. I’m very, very close to Leslie and close to all the executives there. We’re like a wonderful family. I just felt that I had done the job, and hopefully I did it well, and there were new challenges I wanted to take on. I wanted to be a little less comfortable, and I was always so intrigued with where television was going.
THR: What exactly did you do as an adviser to Moonves?
Tellem: I’ve always been interested in looking at the next generation of television. In the early days, I ran CBS.com before CBS acquired CNet, and I initiated the mobile strategy. So I’d try to embrace what’s on the horizon. I was also interested in the global production model, so I did a lot of that, going to places like India and exploring.
THR: Can you give me an example of a crisis at CBS when you were there and how you handled it?
Tellem: I don’t want to be specific, but there are situations where talent has personal issues and it’s like an athlete: Do you throw them out in the field if it hurts them but helps the team? Ultimately you have to think about the well-being of the talent. I guess I’m referring to the Charlie Sheen, Angus T. Jones type of situations. But among the executives, it should be a collaboration, and we should listen to different points of views to come to a conclusion we can live with while also protecting the show.
THR: How would you handle the controversy over Two and a Half Men star Jones’ plea for people to stop watching the show because it’s “filth”?
Tellem: I was just thinking this morning that it’s a good thing I’m not at CBS. Nina [Tassler, CBS Entertainment president] and Leslie and the Warner Bros. people are handling it appropriately. Who knows what motivates these things, but I think his apology was correct. We’re all blessed to be in this business.
THR: Is any part of traditional TV in jeopardy because of advancing technologies?
Tellem: It’s certainly disruptive. We always compared ourselves with the music industry and said we had to be much more nimble and accepting of change. The TV industry has done just that.
THR: How does the industry combat DVRs and ad-skipping?
Tellem: With VOD and embracing the whole concept of giving consumers their content where and when they want it. And there have been studies — and I do this also — where I watch the commercials because I forget I’m watching a recorded show. Ratings aren’t reflecting what’s really happening. It’s interesting, though, that when you download something, you end up watching the commercials, because you’ve made the decision to watch it free with ads instead of paying for it without ads. Because of that proposition and the intimate relationship people have with their computers and tablets and such, people are accepting commercials and watching them more.
THR: What was your favorite CBS show with which you were involved?
Tellem: Oh my God. You know, it’s like, as Leslie would always say, “They’re all our children.” But obviously, the things that made a huge difference in turning around that network were shows like CSIand Survivor and, my gosh, Everybody Loves Raymond.
THR: What do you like to watch now on TV?
Tellem: I’m quite enthralled with Game of Thrones. I’ve been watching Newsroom a lot on HBO. I love Homeland, of course, because everyone does,  and Modern Family. I hate to admit it, but I agreed with most of the Emmy Awards this year. I love television. I spent the last 25 years in it, you know?
THR: Now that you’re at Microsoft, is there pressure to become a gamer?
Tellem: I love FIFA and I play Madden and golf games, and I think it’s due to the influence of my kids. I was aware of Halo, Call of Duty and the shooter games, but I didn’t play Halo until four days ago. It’s really amazing, but shooter games aren’t my cup of tea.
THR: Do you have a political problem with them?
Tellem: It’s funny. Like in television, we’re all fine with violence but not sex. The shooter games are much like procedural series, which I’ve never embraced. I don’t like blood.

And that’s not all as Microsoft Names Longtime Technology Entrepreneur Blake Krikorian Corporate Vice President in Its Interactive Entertainment Business [Microsoft press release, Jan 10, 2013]

Proven innovator and leader in media and technology brings strong entertainment background to Xbox team.

Microsoft Corp. today announced the appointment of Blake Krikorian as corporate vice president for its Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB). Krikorian will report to Marc Whitten, chief product officer for IEB. This announcement follows the acquisition of Krikorian’s company, id8 Group R2 Studios (R2 Studios).
“We are thrilled to have Blake join the Xbox team,” Whitten said. “He’s a proven innovator and well-respected leader in both the media and technology industries, having created simple, elegant products that have transformed the way people engage with and consume content. We look forward to his contribution to our team as Xbox continues to evolve and transform the games and entertainment landscape.”
“I am excited to join Microsoft and be a part of the Xbox team. As a 10-year Xbox LIVE subscriber, I have seen firsthand how Xbox has delighted us by reinventing how consumers experience games and entertainment,” Krikorian said. “I look forward to helping the team define the future of entertainment and contribute to the next decade of continued innovation.”
Krikorian most recently founded R2 Studios. Before that he served as the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Sling Media Inc., inventors of the Emmy® award-winning Slingbox®, which is now owned by EchoStar Corp. Krikorian served on the board of Amazon.com Inc. and also co-founded the Philips Mobile Computing Group where he co-led the team that created the award-winning Velo 1 handheld PC running Windows CE. He has received numerous lifetime achievement awards including the Lifetime Technology Leadership Award from Broadcasting & Cable, as well as the TechFellow Award for Disruptive Innovation from TechCrunch, Founders Fund and NEA.

Microsoft has acquired id8 Group R2 Studios [Neowin.net, Jan 10, 2013]

… Microsoft apparently was the winner in the race to acquire R2 Studios with Google and Apple both reportedly also interested in buying the company. R2 Studios’ only product was a $99 Android app, R2 Control For Creston, which allows users to remotely control devices such as security systems, lighting and more on an Android smartphone or tablet.

This move could be a signal that Microsoft’s next version of the Xbox console will have some kind of expanded remote control features. The company has already launched Xbox SmartGlass apps for Windows 8, iOS and Android device owners for use as a “second screen” experience for some Xbox 360 games and media.

R2 Android App Controls Crestron Systems [CrestronElectronics YouTube channel, Sept 23, 2010]

Blake Krikorian of id8 Group shows off his new Android app, R2. Designed to work with the existing Crestron Mobile framework on the backend, R2 integrates and programs just like an iPod touch, iPhone or iPad. This new Android app can be seen at Crestron’s booth running on the new Samsung GALAXY tab so stop by if you’re at CEDIA!

Slingbox® Inventor And Crestron Collaborate To Bring Android™ OS Support To The Crestron Platform [Crestron press release, May 17, 2011]

R2 Control App For Android™ is Now Available

Slingbox® inventor, Blake Krikorian and Crestron today announced the release of the R2™ Control™ for Crestron, a software app that turns virtually any Android™ smartphone or tablet into a fully-functional Crestron touch panel for residential and commercial applications. Utilizing the R2 app and Crestron processors, customers can now control AV, lighting, thermostats, security systems, and thousands of other products via their Android device from anywhere in the world.
imageR2 was initially unveiled at the Crestron booth at CEDIA Expo last September. Since then, R2 conducted a seven month private beta test program consisting of hundreds of residential, commercial and government Crestron-authorized integrators from around the world. The input from this beta team helped R2 achieve a sophisticated solution compatible with a multitude of Android devices.
R2 was developed by id8 Group Productions, a product development and technology lab. Co-founder and inventor of Emmy award-winning Slingbox, Blake Krikorian founded id8 Group Holdings (parent company of id8 Group Productions) in 1999. R2 is the first product developed by id8 Group since Slingbox expanded in 2004 to form Sling Media®, Inc. Sling Media was subsequently acquired by Echostar Corporation in 2007.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with an innovator like Blake and officially support Android,” says Fred Bargetzi, Crestron VP of Technology. “The R2 control app for Android is the latest development in our ongoing open-standards platform which also includes integration with iOS, MAC OSX and Windows.”
Krikorian initially conceived of R2 for his own use. “In addition to being able to control aspects of my home via Crestron remote controls and iOS devices, I really wanted to be able to use my new Android-based phone,” says Krikorian. “I desired a software platform that allowed me to further optimize the home control experience for general purpose smartphones and tablets, beyond the industry’s current state of the art. R2 and Android provides the flexibility to do just that.”

R2 Key Features

  • Communicates with Crestron 2-Series and 3-Series™ control systems via WiFi and cellular network
  • Controls multiple systems/homes from one Android device
  • Uses the same Crestron development tools to create projects for R2. R2 touch panel projects are created using the existing and familiar development tools such as SIMPL Windows, VTPro-e®, D3 Pro® and System Builder.
  • Compatible with Crestron Mobile Pro®/Mobile Pro G™ apps: runs projects created for iOS devices
  • Quick access: ability to disable screen unlock requirement; Device’s built-in proximity sensor can automatically wake device
  • Automatic project UI scaling: resizes Mobile Pro and Mobile Pro G projects to the native resolution of any Android device
  • Visual, haptic and audible feedback: provides clear confirmation of key presses
  • Optimized performance for Android: takes advantage of Android’s multitasking and flexibility to deliver an experience optimized for home and building control
  • Support for multiple and custom resolutions: in addition to R2’s built-in UI display scalar, an upcoming VTPro-e add-on (coming soon) enables developers to optionally create pixel-perfect projects for any screen size.
If you have any questions, please contact: r2control@crestron.com.
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About Crestron
For 40 years Crestron has been the world’s leading manufacturer of advanced control and automation systems, innovating technology and reinventing the way people live and work. Providing integrated solutions to control audio, video, lighting, computer, IP and environmental systems, Crestron streamlines technology, improving the quality of life for people in corporate conference rooms, hotels, classrooms, auditoriums, and in their homes.

1 Comment

  1. […] Intel Media: 10-20 year leap in television this year [Feb 16, 2013] and Microsoft entertainment as an affordable premium offering to be built on the basis of the Xbox conso… [Feb 13, 2013] this is a highly probable […]

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