YouTube Greenlights Unscripted Soccer Series From James Corden, Fulwell 73

YouTube is ready for some football — of the European variety.

The Google-owned video giant announced that it has ordered “Training Days” (working title), an unscripted series from production company Fulwell 73 showing soccer’s biggest stars off the field having a laugh. YouTube will debut the 10-week original series next spring on its free, ad-supported platform, ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

“Training Days” will be executive produced by James Corden, Ben Winston, Gabe Turner and Leo Pearlman of London-based Fulwell 73. Gabe Turner will also serve as both director and showrunner.

It’s the first original production out of Europe for YouTube’s slate of ad-supported series, designed as a complement to the premium programming on the YouTube Red subscription service. In May, YouTube announced seven productions for the ad-supported originals initiative, including shows from Ellen DeGeneres and Kevin Hart and a documentary feature from Demi Lovato.

YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl announced the pickup of “Training Days” at the Dmexco marketing confab in Cologne, Germany. “This is our first venture working with European partners to develop advertising-supported premium programming for both global and local audiences,” he said in a statement. “We want to support them in creating groundbreaking stories and formats and expose them to our billion-and-a-half-strong audience.”

In each episode of “Training Days,” a host arrives at the training ground of an elite European soccer team. After spending time watching the players in the thick of their training, the host will take them on a “comical adventure” to reveal a lighter side of the sport’s top athletes.

The show concept “feels like a perfect fit with YouTube’s audience,” Fulwell 73’s Turner said. “It’s an opportunity to spend time with some of the biggest names in world football and create some truly memorable moments.”

Fulwell 73’s TV productions include “The Late Late Show with James Corden” for CBS; spinoff “Carpool Karaoke: The Series” for Apple; and TBS’s “Drop the Mic.” Other sports-themed projects include Usain Bolt documentary “I Am Bolt,” released theatrically by Universal; “Class of 92,” starring David Beckham, also with Universal; and the BBC’s “Mo Farah: Race of His Life.”

“Training Days” joins YouTube’s lineup of ad-supported originals, which kicked off in June with the 96-hour live-streamed special “Katy Perry – Witness World Wide.” Next up is the behind-the-scenes twice-weekly “Ellen’s Show Me More Show,” premiering Sept. 19, followed by “Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated” in October and singing competition “Best.Cover.Ever” from Ryan Seacrest Productions and Endemol Shine North America in November.

Also at Dmexco, Kyncl touted YouTube’s momentum for its 6-second “bumper” ads — which are unskippable. One-third of large advertisers are now using the units, and YouTube saw a 70% increase in number of customers adopting the format from the first quarter of 2017 to Q2. Fox Networks Group has followed YouTube in adopting the 6-second ad format for both digital and linear TV, including for last month’s “Teen Choice 2017” awards.

In addition, Kyncl boasted that YouTube’s average ad viewability rate is 95%, as verified by third-party measurement firms. According to ad-tech vendor IAS, internet video viewability rates averaged 58% across the industry in the second half of 2016.

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