10:00am PT by Michael O'Connell
Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Craig Piligian Partner for Verizon Reality Competition
Verizon is readying an original series about mobile devices for mobile devices. The company has ordered The Runner, produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's Pearl Street Films, Pilgrim Media Group and Adaptive Studios, for its Go90 platform.
The series, which resembles a high-tech game of tag in which one contestant has 30 days to make it from one side of the U.S. to the other without being thwarted by eight two-person teams, has been in the works for quite a while. It was originally sold to ABC back in 2000, though it was pulled shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. It also almost went at Yahoo, though it was stuck in development until recently.
It's a first for Go90, which currently hosts exclusive mobile-friendly content from partners.
“This show is exactly the kind of series Pilgrim is known for," said Pilgrim Media Group CEO Craig Piligian. "The Runner integrates real high-stakes competition, live elements, a need for speed, and the ability to fight and persevere. It’s incredibly exciting to produce something this complex, and we’re thrilled to be in business with Matt and Ben, Adaptive, and our partners at Go90 to do it.”
The Runner marks the latest series to make a play for audience participation, via apps, though its in-app platform seems to make it a more natural element than the Big Four swings (Million-Second Quiz, Rising Star) of the past few years. Viewers will be able to provide tips to the pursuing teams, with multiple video updates about the game being released every day. Verizon only launched Go90 in October.
“We’ve been busy bringing a lot of original content to Go90, but to deliver on an original with this level of interactivity for users excites us,” said Verizon head of product innovation Shawn Strickland. “Go90 is inherently social and producing content that supports those elements of the platform creates a pairing for something unique.”
Affleck, Damon, Piligian and Adaptive Studios' Marc Joubert and Perrin Chiles are executive-producing. The Runner, which will award a broadcast-level $1 million prize to the winner, is expected to launch in the summer.