Xbox is getting into the original content game, developing a dozen projects including a variety comedy show pilot hosted by Sarah Silverman, it was announced Monday.
Xbox users have been able to stream content from providers such as Netflix and Hulu on the gaming system, but beginning in June they will also be able to access exclusive programming through Xbox Originals.
“Microsoft has a long and rich legacy in the content business,” said Jordan Levin, executive vice president of Xbox Entertainment Studios. “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.”
Xbox is partnering with JASH, the online comedy network founded by Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim and Eric, and Reggie Watts, on an as-yet untitled variety series. "Each week, a different comedian will host/curate a show featuring new and unsung talent, in various video formats," according to Xbox. Silverman will host the pilot, which will go into production this June.
Also in the pipeline are two projects based on the "Halo" games, including a series from executive producer Steven Spielberg and a digital feature from director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan.
Xbox is also committed to a six-part documentary series, "Signal to Noise," that will tell "little-known stories of how modern technology has radically altered the way we interact with our world." The first installment, "Atari: Game Over," will investigate an urban legend tied to the 1983 "E.T." Atari game. It will premiere sometime later this year. Debuting in June is "Every Street United," an unscripted series about street soccer.
In addition, Xbox Originals will provide coverage of live events, starting June 13 with a simulcast of the 13th Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
While network late night TV remains an exclusively male space, alternative platforms appear to be more open to funny women. The Silverman news comes amid reports that Chelsea Handler is close to a deal with Netflix to bring her raunchy brand of comedy to the streaming service. Her contract with the NBCUniversal-owned network expires at the end of the year and she has made it clear she is not interested in returning.
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