Microsoft Corp., which announced its biggest job cuts ever today, will shutter an ambitious effort to create original television programs just one month after the first show rolled out.
The Xbox Entertainment Studio will close in coming months, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said in an e-mail to employees. Nancy Tellem, the ex-CBS executive brought in to lead the effort two years ago, will stay on with some of her team to complete shows in production, such as a “Halo” series, the company said.
Tellem was hired by former Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer to draw more entertainment consumers to Xbox by getting into original programming, like Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc. Tellem assembled a team in a Santa Monica, California, and put together six confirmed series, along with more than a dozen in development as of April. The first, a street-football reality TV show, came out last month during the World Cup.
Spencer and Tellem said in March that Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, with both a new CEO and head of Xbox, remained committed to the TV effort.
With Microsoft and new CEO Satya Nadella cutting 18,000 positions and trying to focus more closely on selling software for mobile and the cloud, TV is being jettisoned.
“Change is never easy, but I believe the changes announced today help us better align with our long-term goals,” Spencer wrote.