First, Netflix showed the world that tech companies could make original TV shows like “House of Cards” that were just as good as anything on the major networks or cable. Now Microsoft and Yahoo want a piece of the action.
Microsoft has six original series lined up, including a science-fiction show about robot workers, a soccer reality show and a comedy sketch series from Sarah Silverman and Michael Cera.
The new TV studio could roll out in June, according to Bloomberg, potentially attracting non-gamers to pony up $500 for the Xbox One.
Yahoo is also getting in the game. It has financed original video content before, like “Bachelor” parody "Burning Love” and the animated sci-fi series “Electric City,” voiced by Tom Hanks. But it has never attempted anything like a full TV series. Yahoo is looking to close deals on four original shows, “people briefed on the company's plans” told the Wall Street Journal, running in 10-episode seasons.
Each 30-minute episode would cost between $700,000 and $1 million to make, according to the Wall Street Journal, putting them in the same ballpark as major network productions.
Last week, Amazon was under the spotlight after it unveiled Fire TV, its competitor to Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and, yes, Xbox One. The company has already created original TV shows for Amazon Instant Video.
For only $99, the set-top streaming box — which features voice search and video games for casual gamers — is a lot cheaper than Microsoft’s newest console.
Microsoft, however, has some other tricks up its sleeves. Each original show green-lit by the company has some interactive features built into it — for example, the ability to bring up extra information on characters or view additional storylines using the Xbox One controller or a viewer’s tablet or phone.
None of this means that cord-cutting has become the norm. But Yahoo and Microsoft, in joining Netflix and Amazon, obviously see streaming as the way to appeal to the couch potato of the future.
First published April 7 2014, 7:59 AM