12:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Facebook Dives Into Scripted Television With Nicole Byer Comedy Series (Exclusive)
Facebook has lined up one of the first series in its push to bulk up on original video programming.
The social media giant is near a deal to revive Nicole Byer vehicle Loosely Exactly Nicole for a second season, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. The news comes four months after the scripted comedy was canceled after one low-rated season on MTV. Facebook and producers Jax Media declined comment.
Loosely Exactly Nicole is a family comedy inspired by the life and comedy of Byer, who broke out for the Viacom network with talk show Girl Code. The series launched on MTV last September, drawing just 360,000 total viewers, before wrapping quietly in October with less than 150,000 viewers. Sources note a writers room has already been opened and some of the cast and all of the creative team — including creator and showrunner Christine Zander — are poised to return. 3 Arts exec produces alongside Jax; MTV is no longer involved in any capacity.
Additional details about the project remain closely guarded as Facebook preps an expected summer launch for its video slate.
The decision to revive Loosely Exactly Nicole reunites Byer with Mina Lefevre, who developed the series during her tenure as executive vp at MTV. She exited the Viacom network in February before moving to Facebook as head of development. MTV canceled the series in February as the cabler, under new president Chris McCarthy, refines its focus on scripted programming. (MTV also canceled critical darling Sweet/Vicious and pot comedy Mary + Jane.)
Loosely Exactly Nicole will be among the tentpole projects that Facebook uses to lure viewers to its new video tab. It's an effort that began six months ago with the hiring of CollegeHumor founder Ricky Van Veen as global head of creative strategy to jump-start Facebook's video ecosystem.
Facebook is lining up two types of programming for its video tab, according to sources familiar with their plans. They include shortform series from digital producers such as BuzzFeed and Vox Media and a handful of signature, television-quality series that Facebook is calling "hero" projects. For those top-tier shows, Facebook is said to be looking to spend about six figures per episode for full ownership, which would give it the ability to release them to its global audience of 1.9 billion monthly active users. Terms of its expected deal for for Loosely Exactly Nicole are unclear.
The Byer starrer joins a rapidly growing list of programming to jump from a network to another platform. While not a new trend, shows jumping platforms has become more frequent given the sheer number of outlets — both digital and linear — competing for original programming in a Peak TV landscape of more than 455 originals.
Byer is repped by WME and 3 Arts.