DirecTV sports standoff gets digital satire

Satcaster, Fox team for branded entertainment series

As its subscribers await the fate of the Pac-12 Networks on DirecTV, the satcaster has coincidentally cast itself in a new digital series about a fictional collegiate football program looking to license its TV rights.

DirecTV is teaming with 20th Century Fox’s digital studio to produce “Suit Up,” a scripted comedy in which the satcaster, via a brand integration deal, is inserted into the narrative as coming to the rescue of a scandal-ridden athletic department that loses its valuable TV deal with a fictional cable company.

The eight-episode shortform series will get an exclusive two-week run on Yahoo beginning Sept. 12 before moving on to DirecTV’s Audience Network next January.

Though “Suit Up” recalls the high-profile negotiations currently playing out between DirecTV and a certain real-life collegiate conference, DirecTV greenlit the project roughly 18 months ago.

“Suit Up” marks an unprecedented arrangement for DirecTV in more ways than one. It’s the first time the satcaster has promoted itself via branded entertainment and the first digital program to get a window on Audience Network, which is prepping its first longform scripted drama, “Rogue.”

“We’ve always wanted to tell the story of DirecTV in a cool, different way,” said Jon Gieselman, senior VP of marketing at DirecTV.

“Suit Up” is a production of Fox Digital Studio, which has built up a roster of brand-friendly shortform programming this year including a pair of productions at MySpace, “Wolfpack of Reseda” and “Let’s Big Happy,” as well as a third, “The Ropes,” for both Netflix and Crackle.

“The great thing about the integration is you couldn’t have told this story without an MVPD in the mix,” said Matthew Glotzer, senior VP of Fox Digital Entertainment.

“Suit Up” represents FDS’ first deal with Yahoo, which will make the series available on Yahoo Screen and Yahoo Sports, which is the top-ranked sports website.

Episodes are approximately 10 minutes each. Cast includes Marc Evan Jackson, Barry Corbin and Brian Thomas Smith.