CW Orders Series From Its Digital Studio (EXCLUSIVE)

CW Seed has sprouted.

A Web series produced by the broadcast net’s digital studio will graduate to primetime for the first time this summer. The CW has ordered 10 half-hour episodes of “Backpackers,” which follows a pair of twentysomething friends on their misadventures traveling the world.

With a mandate to increase the number of original programs on its sked year-round, the netlet started CW Seed last year partly in hopes that its output would yield properties promising enough to elevate to on-air status without going the traditional development route, according to Rick Haskins, executive VP of marketing and digital programs at CW.

While “Backpackers” wasn’t actually CW Seed’s most-watched series, the network realized early on that its story had a broader-based appeal than others and would translate well to TV. The Web series will be reconstituted into the first four episodes; six more episodes were shot that haven’t yet been seen online.

“Rather than shooting a pilot for millions of dollars, this is a way of developing for much less and testing whether it works,” said Haskins, who isn’t quite ready to pull a Kevin Reilly and declare the end of pilot season. “This is still a side department.”

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