Lights, action: tech giants rush into original TV

Lights, action: tech giants rush into original TV
Amazon Announces Set Top Video Device
A new device for streaming to television sets, called Amazon Fire TV, may further help Amazon in its bid to draw viewers.

NEW YORK - The battle of the tech giants is now moving into television.

Following the success of Netflix and a fresh push by Amazon in online video, the latest players looking to get into the gold rush may be Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL, among others.

These moves come as a growing number of consumers are turning away from traditional television to online services such as Netflix, and with those providers looking to draw viewers by offering new, and not just recycled programs.

Inspired by Netflix's "House of Cards," a blockbuster with a reported investment of $100 million, Yahoo is seeking writers and producers for four comedy programs with per episode budgets of at least $700,000, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Microsoft is also moving toward original content that can be streamed through its Xbox consoles, starting with a series produced by Steven Spielberg based on the popular "Halo" video game.

A new science fiction series, "Humans," coproduced by Britain's Channel 4, is expected to debut in 2015 for Xbox viewers.

"We have been overwhelmed by the interest we've received from the creative community to collaborate with us on developing unique, compelling story-telling experiences for the Xbox community," Microsoft said.

The Amazon charge

Amazon, which has already seen some success with its "Alpha House," programme, is now making an all-out push to expand its original offerings to ramp up its challenge to Netflix and Hulu, which also produces original programs.

Amazon has given the green light to six new original programs, including a drama produced by X-Files creator Chris Carter called "The After" and a comedy with actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Malcolm McDowell, "Mozart in the Jungle." A new device for streaming to television sets, called Amazon Fire TV, may further help Amazon in its bid to draw viewers.

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