Xbox quits original programming

Microsoft has confirmed it’s shutting down Xbox’s original programming arm, Xbox Entertainment Studios, as the division refocuses on its core video gaming business.

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox and Microsoft Studios, confirmed the move today, although he added that the company would continue with projects already in production. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who took over from Steve Ballmer in February, had also signaled the move in a recent blog post.

Microsoft announced earlier today that it plans to lay off as many as 18,000 employees as Nadella streamlines the tech giant following its recent $7.2bn acquisition of Nokia’s services and devices business.

Nancy Tellem, the former CBS exec who was hired to head Xbox Entertainment Studios in September 2012, will stay on to oversee projects in active development and production. These include TV series Halo, based on the Microsoft game, and documentary series Signal To Noise, which will examine gaming giant Atari in its first episode.

Xbox’s first original series, football-themed reality show Every Street United, debuted in June in the run-up to the World Cup.

“Xbox will continue to support and deliver interactive sports content like NFL On Xbox, and we will continue to enhance our entertainment offering on console by innovating the TV experience through the monthly console updates,” said Spencer in a statement.

“Additionally, our app partnerships with world-class content providers bringing entertainment, sports and TV content to Xbox customers around the world are not impacted by this organisational change in any way and remain an important component of our Xbox strategy.”