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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Janet I. Tu.

January 24, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Microsoft hires Ari Mark for Xbox Entertainment

Microsoft has hired Ari Mark, a former AMC programming director, as head of unscripted programming for Xbox Entertainment Studios, according to Deadline Hollywood.

Mark has been vice president of development at AMC, director of development at Embassy Row and manager of original programming and development at the Sundance Channel, according to his LinkedIn profile.

At AMC, Mark developed reality TV shows “The Pitch” and “Small Town Security,” according to Deadline Hollywood.

Microsoft confirmed the hiring of Mark, but did not provide details on his job responsibilities.

Mark’s hiring comes amid changes in how Microsoft is approaching the entertainment content it provides on its Xbox platform.

Microsoft has long been positioning the Xbox as not just a gaming console, but as a central hub for living room entertainment. The Xbox platform already features many entertainment apps, including Netflix, Hulu Plus and ESPN.

The company began its push into creating original content for the platform with the 2012 hiring of Nancy Tellem, former president of  CBS Network Television Entertainment Group. Tellem became Microsoft’s president of Entertainment & Digital Media, overseeing a new production studio — Xbox Entertainment Studios — in Los Angeles.

Tellem has since been building her team and the studio has been announcing original programming, such as “Halo, the Television Series” and a multi-film documentary series. Tellem has said that she hopes to get the first of the studio’s original programming up by first or second quarter of 2014.

Other recent changes to Microsoft’s entertainment business has been the departure of Blair Westlake, who most recently was vice president of the Media and Entertainment group at Microsoft. Over a decade, Westlake had served as Microsoft’s liaison with the media and entertainment industries and had led a group responsible for business development and content licensing for services and devices, including Xbox Video, Xbox Music, and Windows PCs, tablets and phones.

0 Comments | Topics: xbox, xbox entertainment studios

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