Marking its first foray into original broadband content, Microsoft’s MSN online portal is finishing negotiations for a multiproject deal with “The Office” and “Biggest Loser” producer Reveille.
Projects will fall under the MSN Originals banner the Netco is creating in a bid to draw advertisers to exclusive video content on its site. MSN also made a deal with women’s home-improvement site BeJane to create video programming, and is expected to sign deals with several other Hollywood producers and Web content providers in the near future.
Deal includes a seven-figure guarantee by MSN against its expected pickup of Reveille series.
Financial specifics weren’t available, but Reveille is expected to share in advertising revenue.
Four projects already have been identified, with more expected to follow. They will include video and interactive components. Several will likely focus on shortform comedy.
Entry of MSN to the Web programming space ups the competition for America Online, which has a pact with Katalyst Films and is producing reality series “Gold Rush” with “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett.
Yahoo! has deals with shows including “60 Minutes” and “Entertainment Tonight” for Web-exclusive clips and is developing reality series “The Runner” with Burnett; it hasn’t yet greenlit any original series made with Hollywood producers.
“This is the beginning of an overall initiative that we hope will include many partnerships to give us a broad portfolio of exclusive content offerings to help expand our audience and opportunities for our advertisers,” said Rob Bennett, general manager of entertainment and video services for MSN.
MSN will start pitching the shows to advertisers this week at its Strategic Accounts Summit with hopes of selling video ads and brand integration.
Reveille plans to pitch some of the projects to other media, such as mobile, DVD and TV. In such a case, two companies would share ownership.
“Some of the ideas are designed to launch online and then live on in different ways in other media,” Reveille topper Ben Silverman told Daily Variety. “This deal is an absolute triangulation of MSN and Reveille’s advertising relationships with MSN’s technology and distribution and our creativity.”
(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)