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Who Isn't Producing Original Content These Days? Redbox Instant and Microsoft Latest to Enter Fray

Sterling Wong

These days, it's rare to find a cable or Web network that hasn't moved toward the HBO model of producing original content.

Netflix (NFLX) is the highest-profile example, of course, having just released the well-reviewed series House of Cards. Hulu, Amazon (AMZN), DirecTV (DTV), and even Intel (INTC) are all also at various stages of developing compelling original programming in the hopes of differentiating themselves to consumers.

The latest to announce its intention to join the fray is Redbox Instant, the new streaming joint venture from Coinstar's (CSTR) Redbox and Verizon (VZ).

"I don't see how you can avoid having original content," said Redbox Instant CEO Shawn Strickland at the Advertising Age digital conference in New York City this week.

Strickland said that his company would likely focus on family-oriented original content, since there was a gap in that market.

He noted that actor Kevin James, who typically stars in family-friendly fare, "is a rock star at kiosks… This is one area from a programming perspective we can look at and see how we can fit there and fill a void."

However, having just officially launched earlier this year, Strickland said that Redbox Instant would focus on "creating a content offering and platform that pulls people in." In terms of original programming, "Ultimately I think we [will] get there, but not in the near term."

Redbox Instant's announcement follows one by Microsoft (MSFT) in March, which stated that it plans to develop original content that can be streamed to Xbox users.

According to Microsoft's entertainment and digital media president Nancy Tellem, the company's Los Angeles studio has set its sights on offering original content via Xbox consoles by the end of this year.

Tellem said that she thinks Microsoft is at "the start of the next wave of truly interactive entertainment," adding that the company hopes to allow audiences to be able to directly interact with characters on TV shows.

While the rush of companies to invest capital and produce original content throws up an existential threat to traditional broadcast and cable giants, for consumers, such competition can only mean one thing: better products for our enjoyment.

Twitter: @sterlingwong

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