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December 19, 2013 at 8:17 AM

Xbox Entertainment Studios producing original documentary series

It’s not only Netflix and Amazon.com that are getting into producing their own original programming.

Xbox Entertainment Studios, created in 2012, has slowly been getting into the game. It had announced its first first original program — “Halo, the Television Series,” produced by Steven Spielberg — in May.

Today, the studio said it will also be developing a multi-film documentary series with Academy Award winning producer Simon Chinn (“Searching for Sugar Man” and “Man on Wire”) and Emmy winning producer Jonathan Chinn (FX’s “30 Days” and PBS’s “American High”).

The first installment in the documentary series will have the film crew pursuing the urban legend that in 1983 video game company Atari had buried millions of the not-well-received, unsold “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial” game cartridges in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Shooting on the dig is scheduled to start in January.

The series is slated to air sometime next year via Xbox Live on Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

The studio is hoping to get the first of its original programming up by first or second quarter of 2014, according to a Variety interview with Xbox Entertainment Studios chief Nancy Tellem.

The Variety report says getting the original series developed took a bit longer than Tellem had hoped and also takes a look at how Microsoft is trying to figure out its niche in the entertainment industry as entertainment platforms evolve.

Tellem’s team has to figure out what will resonate with Xbox customers, how to schedule programming and  the proper business models to use for deals, among other things, Variety reports.

“We aren’t Netflix, we aren’t Amazon, we’re a different animal,” the Variety report quotes Tellem as saying. “We’re neither or we’re a little like them. It all depends. The lack of black and white and this is the template and this is what we’re following is very difficult.”

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