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Report: Microsoft pitched Conan O'Brien on Xbox show

Microsoft's media ambitions could have given popular late-night TV host Conan O'Brien his own show on the company's latest game console.


Conan O'Brien has been at the TBS network for three months now, but the late night TV host and his show reportedly could have ended up on Microsoft's Xbox instead.

In an interview with "Conan" executive producer Jeff Ross, video game site Gamasutra reports that that Microsoft had pitched the Conan team about bringing the show to its Xbox game console as part of a larger digital content offering.

Discussions fizzled, but the news adds weight to a report by Reuters from back in November claiming that Microsoft was attempting to work out content deals with various networks to turn the Xbox into a "virtual cable operator."

Such a system was said to be served up as part of a paid monthly subscription, in a similar fashion to Microsoft's Xbox Live service, with users getting access to a lineup of existing TV channels. However, this latest report paints a picture of Microsoft building up its own content network that would rival these traditional TV networks.

According to Ross, the Xbox deal fell through for a variety of reasons, with one of the main ones being proper offers from existing TV networks like TBS, where O'Brien eventually landed. But Ross also cited that the length and scope of the show for how it fit into the larger content model were unclear.

"The Xbox thing--a lot of the conversations were 'well, it's a show, but it's not a show and there are no breaks, but maybe there are breaks and it's not 60 Minutes, it's this' and nobody really knew what it was," Ross told the site.

Microsoft, of course, is no stranger to TV and making content deals. The company launched MSNBC with NBC in 1996, before giving up its controlling stake of the network some nine years later. More recently, Microsoft has continued to flesh out its IPTV offerings through its Mediaroom platform, as well as serving up digital streams and purchases of movies and TV shows through its Zune Marketplace, which can be found on the Zune, Windows Phone 7, and on the Xbox 360.