Facebook has gotten real with its intention to get into pro-grade TV, greenlighting a series featuring cable reality show staple Mike Rowe and a docu-series built around the attention-seeking family of Los Angeles Lakers No. 1 draft pick Lonzo Ball.
According to Deadline Hollywood, "Returning the Favor" will feature Rowe—best known for Discovery Channel’s "Dirty Jobs" and CNN’s "Somebody’s Gotta Do It"—traveling the U.S., telling the story of do-gooders. On his Facebook page, Rowe teases the narrative of a motorcycle mechanic who helps veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The other series will focus on the Ball family of Chino Hills, California, which features not only the second pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but also two up-and-coming younger brother hoopsters, as well as the most aggressive, outspoken youth sports patriarch, LaVar Ball, you’ll ever meet. The number of episodes for both series is still being determined, Deadline said.
Facebook has also been working to develop scripted shows. The social media giant has been meeting with major Hollywood talent agencies and mapping out plans to fund shows at up to $3 million an episode. That’s on par with high-end cable originals, though Facebook is also looking at a lower-tier budget level, with shows costing in the mid-to-upper-six-figure range.
The target audience will be viewers ages 13 to 34, with a particular focus on those between 17 and 30. Shows like Freeform’s "Pretty Little Liars" or ABC’s "Scandal" and "The Bachelor" are all models. The effort could begin as early as late summer. Already in the fold are "Strangers," a relationship drama aimed at millennials that premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, and the game show "Last State Standing."
Facebook is also willing to take on shows linear networks have canceled and give them a new lease on life. One such example Facebook is in talks to acquire is "Loosely Exactly Nicole," which MTV canceled last year.
In a statement to The Wall Street Journal last week, Facebook VP of Media Partnerships Nick Grudin said, “We’re supporting a small group of partners and creators as they experiment with the kinds of shows you can build a community around—from sports to comedy to reality to gaming. We’re focused on episodic shows and helping all our partners understand what works across different verticals and topics.”