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Reports: Red Bull to bring big soccer drama to the small screen

Keep an eye out for The Net: Papa Red Bull’s latest soccer project.

Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix: Qualifying Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images

Prior to its traditional role as an annual showcase for the film industry’s latest and greatest offerings, Cannes is hosting a TV-focused competition - Canneseries - and an attendant conference offering buyers of TV series the chance to get in on some heavyweight-programming-in-progress. It was at the latter event - MIPTV - that the industry learned of The Net: projected as 40 hours of premium television built around “the dark side of the soccer world”, per the Hollywood Reporter’s description.

Soccer is great TV, but TV or film about soccer very often is not. Unless you’re into the so-bad-it’s-good genre that has been capably served by the likes of Green Street Hooligans and 21 Thunder.

So why care about this latest effort, which isn’t even expected to start shooting until 2019/20? Well, one half of the production team behind the project is Beta Film, recently responsible for producing Babylon Berlin - “the most expensive television drama series not made in English”, says Wikipedia. Beta is promising The Net will be “high-end drama” and the company certainly knows what high-end drama costs. The creatives behind the series concept are also high-end dramatists: Mathias Hartmann was once director of the Vienna Burgtheater, and Plinio Bachmann has head of theatre for Zurich’s Department of Culture on his CV.

But Once A Metro is mostly interested because the other half of the production team is Red Bull Media House: Papa Red Bull’s “multi-platform media company with a focus on sports, culture, and lifestyle”.

Beta’s press release on The Net declares the series is “inspired by true events”, though the sort of events that seem likely to be covered make it improbable that Red Bull will want audiences to think of the program as a documentary about its soccer enterprise:

For the characters in the series, football is not only a dream factory full of luxury, glamour, lifestyle, VIPs and models, but also one of the largest organized crime enterprises in history with bribery, drugs, match fixing, money laundering and even murder.

Still, it sounds like lively TV, it’ll have some soccer happening somewhere in the background, and there’s no reason not to hope for a Ralf Rangnick or Jesse Marsch cameo during the five eight-episode seasons the producers are currently touting.