Microsoft announced today that their Zune media player division is getting into the original digital content development game, kicking it off with a collaboration with MEAN Magazine called Cinemash. The new original digital series that promises a comedic take on reinventing classic scenes from popular movies starring notable film and television actors. (Sounds like a nod to Be Kind Rewind, no?)
If you’re wondering why Microsoft would embark on original digital series, particularly for the Zune media player, take a peek at the Zune marketplace for video and look at the #1 series and top episodes. The Guild dominates the charts (right), beating out Battlestar Galactica, House, South Park and The Office. Granted, The Guild is free to download while the others cost a dollar or so per episode. You still can’t help but notice the draw of a hit web series and the value it adds to the Marketplace overall, presumably directly driving sales of those other shows.
The Guild Season 2 is currently under way with an exclusive release deal with Microsoft that has new episodes available only on XBox 360 Live, MSN and the Zune Marketplace for the first four weeks of each episode.
The Zune division says they will develop several original pilots over the next 12 months ranging from live-action and animated comedy to urban and music programming.
“Video is an important part of the Zune experience, and by working with cutting-edge partners like MEAN we are expanding our offering to give our customers original programming they can’t get anywhere else,” said Paul Davidson, lead video and original content producer for Zune. “We will also look to expand distribution across other Microsoft platforms to make the series available to an even larger audience.”
Those other platforms will most likely include Xbox and MSN, should those divisions find Cinemash a good fit. The new series is slated to debut sometime this spring and will be available for free in the Zune Marketplace. One downside for Mac users, as of today the Zune Marketplace is only available to Windows users. Looks like it may be time to pick up Parallels for Mac.
[Note: Microsoft Zune is a sponsor of the Streamy Awards, web television’s premier awards show. The live event will happen this March in Hollywood.]