FoxSports.com Sets 'Course' With Animated Web Series
FoxSports.com has signed an agreement with Skadaddle Media to run its first animated webisode series set to debut March 1 on MSN.
The series, "Of Course," highlights the interaction between four close -- yet wacky -- friends on the golf course. FoxSports.com signed on to run about 18 5-minute Webisodes biweekly through the end of the year, with 30- to 60-second vignettes airing between.
The show is based on "guys talking about what guys talk about around a sports theme," and yeah -- it may include that golf shot, but more often than not the topics provide an "escape to their normal everyday lives," says Ed Bunnell, senior vice president of content and programming at FOXSports.com. "Sports, in general, provide an escape mechanism for most males. It's a way to get away from the mundane pieces of their life. Of Course does that in a very entertaining way."
Bunnell has been looking for an animated series to run on FoxSports.com similar to "Of Course," but until now he didn't have much luck. This one's different, he says, because people who watch the webisodes will identify with at least one of the four characters. The Web series is the brainchild of execs at Skadaddle Media, a social engagement marketing studio. The self-produced golf-themed animated Web series is the first of many the company plans to produce.
An "Of Course" Facebook Fan page that went live less than three weeks ago now supports nearly 1,600 fans without much content to prove the concept, according to Todd Lieman, founder and co-president of Skadaddle Media. "All we have to show them is the trailer and the promise of what's coming," he says. "Things that happen in the shows will become trivia contests on Facebook and the Web site."
Golf brands will integrate into the webisodes, too. The brands aren't the biggest, but for those starting to grow, the series Of Course will provide a solid starting point.
Initially, the "Of Course" story lines come from experiences that four friends, including Skadaddle founders Leiman and Jon Wank, have on the golf course -- but the webisode will incorporate story lines submitted by fans of the show. The grand prize for the best storyline hasn't been announced, but the first place winner will likely receive a stay and play at Eagle Fall Golf Course in Palm Springs, Calif., where the webisodes are shot.
Skadaddle's agreement with Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, which owns the Eagle Fall Golf Course in Palm Springs, Calif., allows the group to record episodes on the course one week at a time. The foursome play golf on camera wearing microphones to get the authentic dialog and action that is turned into the animated webisodes.
One story line will likely come from Lieman's friend, who at one time had several kids under age four. Bender, a character in the webisodes, needs to take back his life, so at some point during the season, he will play a hole stark naked. "We're trying to convince John, who plays Bender, to really become a character actor," Lieman laughs.
Recording and filming the golf games authenticate responses from golfers when bumping into others on the course or interaction between players. So far, about 10 webisodes have been shot. Lieman says other Weibsode topics are in the works.
Developed in the same vein as Jenny McCarthy's "In The Motherhood" Web series, "Of Course" offers brands advertising, sponsorship, and promotional opportunities, both online and offline. As more brands become involved with the series, Skadaddle Media will modify dialogue, story arcs, and character actions to incorporate brands directly into the series, similar to the traditional product placement in theatrical films and cable and TV series.