11:30am PT by Natalie Jarvey
Cristiano Ronaldo to Produce Soccer Drama for Facebook
Facebook already offers live soccer matches to its users. Now it is giving them a drama based on the platform's most popular sport.
The social network has given a straight-to-series order to an untitled soccer drama from executive producer Cristiano Ronaldo. Written and executive produced by Memphis Beat creators Liz Garcia and Josh Harto, the series will follow a high school girls soccer team in upstate New York. The project hails from Paul Lee's wiip and is the studio's second straight-to-series order from Facebook.
The series will tell the story of the soccer team as its melting pot lineup and winning streak invites the community to overcome deep divisions along racial, ethnic and class lines by rallying around the universal language of the beautiful game. The show also explores the ups and downs of teenage life, as players maneuver love, friendships and family.
"In my free time, one of the things I like to do is to watch good television," said Ronaldo, the Real Madrid soccer superstar whose Facebook page boasts more than 120 million followers, making him the most-followed person on the platform.
Continued Ronaldo: "To be the executive producer of this series is going to be an amazing experience, especially given the talent of the people who are working very hard to bring it to life. The story of my life has many similarities with the highs and lows the girls varsity soccer team will face in the series. While the series is set against the background of soccer, it goes much deeper than just the beautiful game. It's about values, challenges, friendship, difficult times, hard work, solidarity, tensions, and harmony. In a word — it's about life."
Facebook has made soccer programming a focus of its live video lineup over the last year, inking deals for live matches from the Champions League, Major League Soccer and Mexico's Liga MX. With this new series, which will air on Facebook's nine-month-old Watch video platform, the social network is indicating that it is looking for ways to continue to engage viewers of its live programming with on-demand content, too.
The project joins a growing lineup of scripted series at Facebook, which has already teamed with wiip on the dark comedy Queen America, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.
"This is a high-end series with global appeal, set against the backdrop of the world's most popular sport, and created in partnership with the world's best footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, and remarkable storytellers Liz and Josh," said Lee. "And, we are thrilled to partner again with Facebook Watch."
Added Garcia and Harto in a joint statement: "People all over the world turn to Facebook to connect with friends and family. It's incredibly exciting to be sharing that format, and building off that feeling of intimacy, to create stories about young women stepping into their strength."
Garcia and Harto are repped by CAA, Madhouse Entertainment and attorney Jeff Frankel; Ronaldo is with CAA and Polaris Sports.