High-octane high jinks are heading to Yahoo.
Starting next week, the Internet giant will be running a 10-week original Web series, called Blindsided, featuring top sports talent pulling pranks on their teammates. The three- to five-minute episodes won’t include a big name host (á la Ashton Kutcher, on MTV’s Punk’d, or Betty White, who will host NBC’s upcoming prank show Off Their Rockers). But Yahoo says the show will include some of the sports world’s current stars, including Landry Fields of the Knicks and Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice and Bryant McKinnie.
Produced with IAC-owned production company Electus (led by former NBC Entertainment head Ben Silverman) and CollegeHumor, the new Web show joins Yahoo’s growing slate of original video programming. In October, calling itself the “broadcast network of the digital age,” Yahoo announced eight new bite-sized shows and a revamped video site, Yahoo Screen. Earlier this week at the Consumer Electronics Show, Yahoo and Tom Hanks introduced the animated series Electric City, which will premiere on Yahoo in the spring.
“This is going to be a big year for Yahoo and our premium video strategy,” Erin McPherson, vp and head of video for Yahoo, told Adweek in an email. “Blindsided . . . is a great example of how we create unique and compelling content tied to what we know our users want to watch.”
Shows like Blindsided also give advertisers new opportunities to integrate their brand into digital programming, she said. Dr Pepper Ten will be the exclusive sponsor of the show, closing the program with a brief “instant replay” of the episode’s most entertaining moments.
Blindsided, which joins a handful of other Electus-produced Yahoo shows, builds on the popularity of prank videos that have struck viral gold on the Web, said Drew Buckley, COO of Electus.
“CollegeHumor really nailed the concept of the prank video,” Buckley said, pointing to the well-watched videos featuring CollegeHumor’s Amir Blumenfeld and Streeter Seiderll, which ultimately led to their MTV series Pranked.
Given the number of eyeballs that land on Yahoo Sports (53.2 million unique visitors in December, according to comScore), Buckley said it was the perfect context for a show like Blindsided. Sports fans get to see how their favorite athletes interact off the field, and mischief-making athletes get a productive place to blow off some steam.
“They’ve been working all season long and they want to pull a prank on a buddy, and we just have the environment for them to do that,” he said.