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Facebook in Talks to Revive Nicole Byer MTV Comedy Series in Scripted Content Push

Variety logo Variety 6/12/2017 Joe Otterson
© Provided by Variety

Facebook is in talks to bring Nicole Byer’s MTV series “Loosely Exactly Nicole” back as part of  the social media giant’s push into original scripted programming.

The series ran on MTV for one season back in October 2016, where it averaged less than 200,000 viewers per episode before it was canceled. It was loosely based on Byer’s own experiences as a comedian living and working in LA. Low ratings aside, the cancellation came as MTV looked to move out of scripted fare, with the network also cancelling “Sweet/Vicious” and “Mary+Jane.” Season 2 of fantasy series “The Shannara Chronicles” will air on fellow Viacom network Spike this fall.

Reps for Byer and Facebook did not immediately return Variety‘s request for comment.

Byer is repped by WME and 3 Arts Entertainment.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first started publicly talking about spending money on what he called “anchor content” for Facebook’s video tab during the company’s most recent earnings call in May. During that same call, Facebook CFO David Wehner said that the company was looking at “kickstarting an ecosystem for longer-form content on Facebook” with upfront investments.

Facebook is prepared to pay as much as $250,000 per episode for its planned original video initiative, Reuters reported in May. The company also plans to license shorter-form content for $10,000 to $35,000 an episode, and has signed on Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, and Group Nine Media to produce videos.

Soon after, Business Insider reported that Facebook had signed up Conde Nast to produce some of its originals. Titles in production reportedly included a VR dating show and other shows involving A-list celebrities. Facebook was looking to unveil a first slate of content at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in June, according to Business Insider.

The original entertainment strategy is led by Ricky Van Veen, head of global creative strategy, who joined the social giant one year ago from IAC’s CollegeHumor. In February, he hired Mina Lefevre, MTV’s executive vice president and head of scripted development, as head of development for original programming. Facebook’s aim is to seed content for the video tab in its mobile app, along with its connected TV app for the fourth-generation Apple TV, to make it more of a destination for users to spend time watching video content—and give its sales org more opportunities to sell video ad inventory.

As Facebook looks to get into the scripted TV business, several networks are starting to bow out. Along with MTV, both WGN America and A&E have shifted away from scripted series. WGN recently canceled their sophomore shows “Outsiders” and “Underground,” while the end of A&E’s series “Bates Motel” marked the end of the network’s scripted programming offerings.

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