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CW Orders Comedy 'Backpackers' From Digital Studio

UPDATED: The series will become the first from CW Seed to be expanded for an on-air broadcast.

CW Backpackers Key Art - P 2014
Jordan Nuttall/The CW
"Backpackers"

The CW is looking to its digital studio CW Seed for comedy.

The youth-skewing network has ordered online comedy Backpackers to series. The CW will reconstitute the online episodes into the first four half-hours, with six more web installments filmed but yet to be streamed. The network has ordered 10 half-hour episodes for a summer debut. The first four episodes will contain episodes from the digital series and the final six will be written and produced specifically for The CW.

STORY: 'Veronica Mars' Getting Web Spinoff on The CW

This marks the first time an online series produced by the broadcast network's digital studio will make the transition. Backpackers, which stars Dillon Casey and Noah Reid as two friends backpacking across Europe after one of them is dumped by his girlfriend, will air in the summer. Giacomo Gianniotti co-stars in the series. 

CW Seed will launch digital reality series The Real Backpackers timed to the show's summer on-air debut. Guide Annie Unnold will travel to the same locations as her fictional Backpackers counterparts, going behind the scenes to find the best places to eat, drink and party -- first in Europe and then in Canada.

“Since launching last year, one of our missions for CW Seed was for it to serve as an incubator for new talent and new ideas,” said Rick Haskins, executive vp marketing and digital programs at The CW.  “We're very excited to see Backpackers turn from a shortform digital series into a full-length broadcast television show, and we are continuing to look at CW Seed for other possibilities to transform content and for creative new ways of doing business.”

The Backpackers pickup comes as The CW has slowly been pushing into original scripted comedy fare. The network revived unscripted entry Whose Line Is It Anyway? last year and found success with the Aisha Tyler-hosted half-hour. Network president Mark Pedowitz has repeatedly said if that series was successful, he would use it as a building block for a comedy lineup. The network renewed it for a supersized second run -- up 10 episodes to 24 -- and moved it to the summer.

STORY: CW Pushes Into Comedy With Canadian Sperm Donor Comedy 'Seed'

As part of its comedy foray, The CW ordered Canadian sperm donor comedy Seed -- not to be confused with the network's digital studio. The network has yet to announce a formal premiere date for the comedy from Entertainment One, but noted it could air the series either as a midseason replacement or in the summer.

For its part, Backpackers -- produced by Smokebomb Entertainment, the digital arm of Shaftesbury Films -- is also a Canadian entry, which aired locally. Star Casey nabbed a Canadian Screen Award nom for his performance. Shaftesbury, Smokebomb and The CW will produce. The series is developed for TV and produced by Jay Bennett, with Maggie Murphy, Christina Jennings, Scott Garvie and Tom Mazza on board as exec producers.

CW Seed launched in 2012.

Watch episodes over at CW Seed.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit