Seth Green, Michael Cera, and Sarah Silverman making Xbox TV shows

Microsoft taps Hollywood comedy talent for new interactive programming to air on Xbox One and Xbox 360.

In its bid to take on companies like Netflix and Amazon with its own Xbox-exclusive TV shows, Microsoft has greenlit new programming from Hollywood comedy stars Seth Green, Michael Cera, and Sarah Silverman. Xbox Entertainment Studios will produce a sketch comedy show made by Silverman and Cera's JASH comedy collective. As for Green's show, it's a stop-motion program made by Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, the team behind Green's Robot Chicken.

"TV, as the highest-reach form of entertainment you can find, is a critical part" of bringing consumers to Microsoft, said Head of Xbox Phil Spencer in an interview with Bloomberg. Spencer said last week that entertainment options for the Xbox One are important, but they "can't come at a cost for what we do for the core gamer."

Other shows from Xbox Entertainment Studios include a World Cup-themed show called Every Street United, as well as the robot thriller Humans. Microsoft also recently got approval to dig up a landfill in New Mexico in search of millions of copies of the failed movie tie-in E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial for a new documentary series. There's also a Halo TV show in the works with Steven Spielberg and a new digital project from Alien director Ridley Scott.

On top of that, Bloomberg reports that Microsoft has ordered a pilot for an unscripted series called Fearless. This show will follow Australian Navy bomb clearance diver Paul de Gelder--who lost limbs in a shark attack--as he "aids people who try to make the world a better place." What's more a documentary series from the minds behind the Oscar-winning Searching for Sugar Man will also come to Xbox. The first shows should debut in June.

Microsoft faces formidable competition in the original programming space. Netflix already has a foothold in the market with well-received shows like House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. Meanwhile, Amazon's online programming lineup includes shows like Betas and Alpha House. In addition, Sony has greenlit a new drama called Powers for the PlayStation Network.

"This is not an easy business," Xbox Entertainment Studios chief Nancy Tellem said. Tellem is a former CBS TV veteran who helped critically acclaimed shows like C.S.I. and Survivor get off the ground. "There's a huge failure rate. You have to get up to the plate a lot. Hopefully we can have a higher batting average than most, but it's a long process."

Xbox Entertainment Studios' efforts also include live programming. The studio will host a live broadcast of the annual summer musicfest Bonnaroo in July. Backstage interviews with performers will be conducted using Microsoft's Skype service.

Tellem said some of the Xbox Entertainment Studios programming, like Every Street United, will be free on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. However, she explained that Microsoft is still working out the business arrangements for the other shows. She also noted that Microsoft could sign deals with other companies to release the programming on other, non-Xbox platforms.

Overall, Tellem said the original Xbox programming will focus exclusively on the "gamer audience"--that is, typically males 18-34 years old.

"We aren't trying to find something that's going to be accepted by the largest common denominator, which is what a lot of people in the business look for," Tellem told Bloomberg. "We're focused on what we feel our audience on our platform wants."

The Xbox Entertainment Studios programming will be a mix of live action and interactive components as a means to encourage users to "engage" with the show across their consoles, phones, and tablet devices. Microsoft is also experimenting with ways it can boost interactivity and engagement, including a system that would scan your face (presumably via Kinect) and then place you in a show's crowd scene.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

72 comments
sinclairhxc
sinclairhxc

hahaha.  a wash-up, a has-been, and a never-was are making shows for XBOX.  should've invested their money into stocks or businesses so we never have to see them work again.

emerin76
emerin76

oh crap...i'm not part of the "gamer audience" according to those numbers.  Should I stop gaming and be a responsible adult now...well my wife is pestering me for kids.

Darknight765
Darknight765

Great idea, but if it doesn't come free with gold then no. The price for the Xbox music pass is a joke. I like the fact that MS hasn't forgot it's a business and need to make money, but seriously, you have to bite the bullet on some things. Unless they plan on including a tv show/movie catalog like Netflix, it needs to be free.

masfima1
masfima1

Sounds great to me, haters hate on, bring on all the content

Evil_Sidekick
Evil_Sidekick

Say "gamer's first"...makes tv shows.

Yeah...makes sense

DrKill09
DrKill09

Wow, nice list of D list stars.


Michael Cera is one of the most annoying people in the world.  So glad Scott Pilgrim bombed, and killed his career.  That no talent hack was EVERYWHERE for a while.


He's just a poor man's Jesse Eisenberg.

bat725
bat725

So, how does M$ plan to compete with Netflix and Amazon, when those apps are available on every console, phone, tablet, Blu-Ray player, PC, and smart tv? How does Sony, for that matter? Exclusive programming isn't going to affect my purchasing decision when it comes to gaming. Idiots!

Simulator_Shock
Simulator_Shock

As much as I love most of Michael Cera's movies, he's now a washed up actor in hollywood which is why he hasn't been in any movies in years! Not to mention I wouldn't be surprised if all these Xbox and Playstation shows end up getting posted on Youtube anyway.

wgerardi
wgerardi

Nice to see M$ is as out of touch with comedians as they are with gaming.

Moonco
Moonco

B-List actors/actresses + second rate gaming console = perfect match

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

Lets hope they don't just pick up the shit that is left over that the other two don't want.

Techtroll
Techtroll

a bunch of shitty washed up talent that cant get real work in hollywood

GrenadeLauncher
GrenadeLauncher

"TV, as the highest-reach form of entertainment you can find, is a critical part" of bringing consumers to Microsoft,"

Ph-Phil! Y-you told m-me you were a g-gamer!

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

If HBO had a console I needed to buy to watch their shows, I'd grab it in a heartbeat. This, not so much. I suppose it's meant to be icing on the cake for those that already own one.

FrankDuxx
FrankDuxx

damn stop complaining its just one more addition for xbox and its good for us xbox fan even if its a tv show just don't watch it if you don't want. 

Xvault77
Xvault77

Soooo stupid. As a gamer, the last thing I want is more T.V. 

KamuiFei
KamuiFei

There's too much crap on TV as it is. Looks like MS wants to expand on that into consoles.

zerofrust
zerofrust

And so the path to Idiocracy opens...

noandno
noandno

Microsoft strikes again!

19James89
19James89

It's a good time to be an Xbox Gamer.

Darknight765
Darknight765

Great and Silverman aren't d-listers. Both have been in a lot of great shows and movies. (I believe green won an Emmy). Can't defend Cera tho.

fede018
fede018

@Techtroll yeah, all Seth Rogen movies flop. no one knows Michael Cera, and it's not liek Sarah Silverman is one of the most known female comedians. While you are one of the most successful commentors in the internet

EasyComeEasyGo
EasyComeEasyGo

Many had tried and failed. If you come for me, that will make it No. 9 for you.

DrKill09
DrKill09

@Xvault77  I know.  All the shows I watched are gone.  The Simpsons, Married... With Children, Home Improvement, Rescue Me, Breaking Bad, Law & Order, Burn Notice...  I don't watch tv anymore.


And yes, I included The Simpsons.  It's been dead since Season 10, it just doesn't know it.

dannydevito
dannydevito

@Xvault77  You realize Sony is copying this and creating their own TV service right?

rasterror
rasterror

So what do you think of Sony's TV plans?

crimsonbrute
crimsonbrute moderator moderator

@EasyComeEasyGo Yo Dawg, I heard you like TV. So we made a TV show that you can watch on a console that lets you watch TV on your TV.

DrKill09
DrKill09

@EasyComeEasyGo  Sony and Microsoft are acting like TV is a big thing.  It's not anymore.  This idea may have worked in 1996, but not now.


YouTube single handedly killed TV in 2006-2007.

DrKill09
DrKill09

@john_matrix_007  Agreed.


TV static is more enjoyable than she is.

zerofrust
zerofrust

@john_matrix_007  

But Sir, RROD increases risk of testicle cancer.

dannydevito
dannydevito

@KamuiFei  You realize Sony is copying this and creating their own TV channels for PS4 right?


canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Did you time travel here from the 13th century?

DrKill09
DrKill09

@sanchango @DrKill09 @Evil_Sidekick  Then again, my 360 got so hot I could've cooked bacon and eggs on it.


Kept it in a well ventilated area, and it still got so hot that I thought the plastic would melt.