Calling it quits

As everyone gets into the TV business, Microsoft just got out of it

July 18, 2014
July 18, 2014

As companies like Yahoo, YouTube, and even BitTorrent  race to create their own original programming, Microsoft is axing its video content unit as part of a company-wide restructuring.

Xbox chief Phil Spencer announced in a memo that Xbox Entertainment Studios (XES), which was founded only two years ago, will shut down:

As part of the planned reduction to our overall workforce announced today and in light of our organization’s mission, we plan to streamline a handful of portfolio and engineering development efforts across Xbox. One such plan is that, in the coming months, we expect to close Xbox Entertainment Studios. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the accomplishments from the entire team in XES. They have built an impressive slate of original programming and pioneered interactive entertainment on Xbox, such as the innovative reality series ‘Every Street United’ that succeeded in uniting audiences around the globe during the recent World Cup.

The good news for those who have been following Xbox’s programming plans is that the live-action Halo television series will go on as scheduled. Nancy Tellem, who joined Microsoft in 2012 to lead its programming division, will stay on to help develop the Halo series, a documentary about Atari, and other projects that are already in production. Tellem was formerly president of CBS Television Studios.

While Xbox console sales more than doubled last month, XES has not been as successful. Reports indicate that XES was plagued by internal disorganization and suffered as Microsoft has emphasized its console’s gaming credentials ahead of its purported role as a multi-function entertainment hub. The Xbox One has been lagging behind rival Sony’s Playstation 4 in sales for months.

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