Nancy Tellem Joins Microsoft
Former president of CBS Television Entertainment Group will head up new Los Angeles-based production studio and will work on Microsoft entertainment initiatives
By George Winslow -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/18/2012 2:11:49 PM
The move builds on a company-wide effort to dramatically expand the amount of entertainment content that is available on the Xbox gaming console platform and is another example of how tech companies are increasingly looking to hire executives from the TV or film side of the businesses to expand the content available on their devices.
Xbox users are already spending over 80 hours a month with entertainment content on the platforms, Phil Spencer, corporate VP, Microsoft Studios, explained in an interview.
"We see TV as a must have when we are thinking about partnering with companies," he noted, adding that hiring "such a great leader to attract talent and establish content partnership will greatly strengthen our push into entertainment."
Tellem will report to Spencer.
In an interview, Tellem noted that they are building a studio in Los Angeles "from scratch and opening doors to writers and production companies and major media companies who are looking to partner with us."
She sees the studio producing a wide range of content that would include "long-form TV, short-form Web," and a variety of other types of content "across all demos and all genres."
Business models for funding the new original programming will also be varied. Spencer noted that they already have over "40 million connected" to the Xbox. "We have a rich subscription business with Xbox Live Gold, the largest transaction and pay-per-view business for video and a substantial ad business," he explained.
Spencer noted that Blair Westlake, corporate VP, media and entertainment group at Microsoft, who had spearheaded a number of content alliances, would continue in his current role. "Blair has been a great partner in bringing in a great amount of content," explained Spencer, who stressed that the addition of Tellem was designed to strengthen their leadership in this area.
Currently Xbox has over 65 entertainment apps, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, MLB.TV, ESPN, YouTube and VEVO. Increased content has also helped boost the global video consumption on Xbox Live by 140% over the last year.
In an interview, Tellem stressed that she "had always been interested in where TV is going in the future" and that the new post with Microsoft would put her at the center of a number of technological developments that are helping to transform the TV business.
"The fact that Xbox is connected to millions and millions of people opens up a tremendous opportunity to look into new productions," that can change the "way entertainment content is experienced and delivered," she noted.
Tellem, who was inducted into the B&C Hall of Fame in 2006, was a CBS executive since 1997, most recently as senior adviser to CEO Leslie Moonves, where she explored business and strategic opportunities involving content partnerships, new production models, emerging media and technologies, Microsoft reported in making the announcement.
As president of the CBS Network Television Entertainment Group, Tellem supervised programming, development, production, business affairs and operations.
Prior to that, Tellem was executive VP of business and financial affairs for Warner Bros. Television and was part of the team that launched the landmark programs Friends and ER.
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