Much as it seems a wild tangent from core focus, especially given recent financial performance, the news from Redmond today is Microsoft has set up a unit to create original short form video content for the Zune. Microsoft’s gone Hollywood.
“Cinemash,” the first planned release will launch on the Zune marketplace as an eight episode series in May. Crafted in partnership with MEAN Magazine, the program will feature TV and Film actors re-imagining classic Hollywood roles in three to five minute segments. All of the episodes will be free but ad-supported.
Microsoft says they will develop additional pilots over the next twelve months that range in focus from live action to urban and music programming.
Offering platform exclusive content is a strategy that works for selling video game consoles. Microsoft’s relied on it with the Xbox platform (the Halo series has driven sales), and even explored creating exclusive non-game video content for the Xbox Live environment.
Will using the approach here help stimulate demand for a portable media player? There’s no doubt assistance would be appreciated. As loyal as some Zune owners are, the media player’s market share remains small and may even be shrinking. According to the most recent 10Q filing (page 31), in the second quarter, "Zune platform revenue decreased $100 million or 54% reflecting a decrease in device sales."
But really, original video? That doesn’t seem like a solution. Gimmicky marketing videos just don’t seem likely to change the Zune’s star power. But who knows… maybe the programs will serve a higher power. Maybe they’ll contribute their value in marketing, if not product sales.
Microsoft’s Paul Davidson, the lead video and content producer for the Zune, did say that they will be looking “to expand distribution across other Microsoft platforms to make the series available to an even larger audience.”
So maybe these original videos will end up being a way of testing new video ad services. Or maybe they’ll take off as viral-videos that push Microsoft’s brand – coming soon to YouTube, Facebook and Microsoft’s own sites?
Stranger things have happened.
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