By Sahil Patel
Xbox Entertainment Studios might not be dead after all — big emphasis on might.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the digital content studio, launched by Microsoft in 2012 to create original interactive programming for Xbox users, has held preliminary talks with Warner Bros. about a possible acquisition.
This is one of many conversations XES has had since Microsoft announced that it would shutter the studio to refocus on its core business, which within the Xbox division means video gaming once again. As we predicted, sources tell us that following Microsoft’s announcement, a wide array of companies — from producers and studios to tech companies and even institutional investors — have approached XES for potential deals involving the studio itself, its programming, and/or the Xbox video technology. The SVOD and OTT space is a hot market, and XES has assets that could be attractive to a wide range of buyers.
Everything is fair game as the XES team determines its next steps. As part of Microsoft’s announce to shut-down the division, the company said the XES leadership would remain in place to shepherd projects like the Steven Spielberg-produced “Halo” TV series and the Ridley Scott-produced “Halo” digital series to completion.
If a deal goes through, THR reports that Warner Bros. could pair XES in some capacity with Machinima, the gamer- and fanboy-centric YouTube network the studio now owns a piece of. That marriage certainly makes sense, not only because of the core demographic both program to, but also the relationship that already exists between Microsoft, Xbox, and Machinima.
Also of note, XES executives Nancy Tellem and Jordan Levin’s shared history with Warner Bros. The former was a top executive at the company before she became the head of CBS Entertainment, and Levin was once the chief executive of The WB Network.
So there are several factors that point to a potential tie-up between Warner Bros. and XES. But as sources caution, all talks have been exploratory, and the digital studio is nowhere near close to a deal.
But stay tuned.