Microsoft wanted Conan O'Brien Show for Xbox Live TV service

Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Xbox 360 made news back in November when rumors surfaced that Microsoft was looking to position the gaming platform as a virtual cable operator. Turns out it was looking to add some immediate star power in the form of talk show host Conan O'Brien, who had a very public brouhaha with NBC after the network dropped him from its late-night line up. O'Brien's executive producer, Jeff Ross, said Microsoft asked O'Brien to commit his show to the play, but had so few details to share that the production team decided it was too sketchy at the time to take a chance on.

"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," Ross said. "Plus there were 100 people who were out of jobs and that didn't bode well for that."

Instead, O'Brien moved to TBS.

The Xbox play reported by Reuters in November had the game console at the center, with a plan that would offer consumers individual channels like HBO, much as it currently provides ESPN over Xbox Live. An advantage Microsoft saw in Xbox was its pre-placement in millions of households; consumers wouldn't have to add yet another box, a la Google TV (Nasdaq: GOOG), Apple TV (Nasdaq: AAPL), or Boxee Box.

There have been more reports that Microsoft is still looking at an Xbox TV service, and that it continues to look for original content to its own channel.

"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."

For more:
- see this Gamasutra article

Related articles:
Microsoft pitching Xbox 360 for new TV service
Telus offers Xbox 360 as IPTV set-top box
AT&T launches U-verse service to Xbox 360

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