EXCLUSIVE: In the year since former top CBS executive Nancy Tellem joined Microsoft as Entertainment and Digital Media President, the company’s original content unit, Xbox Entertainment Studios, has staffed up and ramped up development. Xbox officially signaled its entrance into the original series arena at the May unveiling of the new Xbox One console, where the company announced a Halo drama series produced by Steven Spielberg. Now, I’ve learned that Xbox Entertainment Studios has greenlighted its first unscripted series, Every Street United, from Mandalay Sports Media, the sports content and media company founded in 2012 by Peter Guber and Mike Tollin. Like Halo, based on the popular video game, the eight-episode Every Street United has a gaming connection albeit not as direct. Sports are big in video games, and soccer is the most popular sport in the world, especially in the run-up to another World Cup, the 2014 championship in Rio de Janeiro.
Every 30-minute episode of Every Street United will be shot in a different country (U.S., Spain, Holland, France, Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, South Korea), turning its lens on the greatest undiscovered local street soccer players. Details are still being ironed out but I hear the idea is to have the top player profiled in each episode in a finale episode shot at the 2014 World Cup. In it, the eight street players may lace up for a 4 vs. 4 and are expected to attend World Cup games. Documentary filmmaker Jonathan Hock (ESPN’s 30 For 30) is on board to direct a portion of the series, which is executive produced by Tollin and Jon Weinbach.
Every Street United targets Xbox’s core young male demo. It is global in scope and is expected to feature interactive components, two things Tellem had outlined as key in the company’s original content strategy. The series stems from CAA-repped producer Tollin’s long-standing relationship with Tellem through business he had done at CBS.