Nancy Tellem, former president of CBS Network Television
Entertainment Group, has joined Microsoft as entertainment and digital media
president, where she will oversee the launch of a new production studio in Los Angeles
and help the company expand its entertainment efforts.
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
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
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.