Microsoft tried to woo Conan O’Brien into an Xbox LIVE subscription TV service according to the executive producer of O’Brien’s talk show.
Jeff Ross, executive of “Conan” spoke to Gamasutra recently and confirmed that Conan O’Brien was approached by Microsoft. “The Xbox thing – a lot of the conversations were ‘well, it’s a show, but it’s not a show and there are no breaks, but maybe there are breaks and it’s not 60 minutes, it’s this’ and nobody really knew what it was,” he said. “So it was really going to be a leap of faith to jump in with these guys and figure something out which we didn’t know. Plus there were 100 people who were out of jobs and that didn’t bode well for that.”
O’Brien parted ways with NBC in early 2010 leaving the door open for him to work elsewhere. Microsoft approached O’Brien shortly after his exit to try and woo him. The talks were unsuccessful though as O’Brien joined cable station TBS in April, 2010. Although O’Brien never took Microsoft’s offer, his executive producer was impressed with Microsoft’s plans. “You meet with these guys and they show you all this stuff that they’re developing and it’s mind blowing,” said Ross. “I think it’s coming and it’s big. It’s just that we weren’t in a position at that point to figure out what it was.”
Microsoft is reportedly in talks with several media companies to license TV networks for a new online pay-TV subscription service. Microsoft is proposing a “virtual cable operator” which will be delivered over the Internet and charged with a monthly fee. Microsoft has also suggested that cable companies could use the Xbox as a device to authenticate existing cable subscribers to watch shows and interact with their Xbox LIVE friends. Microsoft offers a similar service in the UK where Sky customers can use their Xbox LIVE avatars during sporting events.
Microsoft refused to comment on reports of a TV subscription. “Microsoft does not comment on rumor or speculation” said a company spokesperson.