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SBNation's Kevin McCauley reports on the Real Madrid coach's response to the rumors regarding the star player.
Goal.com's Loic Tanzi reports on what the Paris Saint-Germain F.C. midfielder thinks about how Neymar could fit in with the team.
Read Arthur Weinstein's report and watch video clips of Cristiano Ronaldo's “ridiculously wonderful” scoring onslaught.
Fansided.com's David Rouben writes about a heated debate going terribly wrong.
The Yardbarker reports on Messi's scoring run and Barcelona F.C.'s winning streak.
The increase in the quality and the number of sports documentaries make for feasible productions not only for major networks, but for any channel looking to offer sports entertainment to their viewers.
There used to be a time when sports documentaries were only produced by a few networks – HBO Sports quickly comes to mind – and while these producers were once few and far between, they are much more commonplace now, and production values have also increased. For 20 or so years, the only good producer of these documentaries was HBO Sports, which would always hire the best talent, including Ezra Edelman, Margaret Grossi, and Joe Levine, and they would subsequently go on to win the most number of awards. However, despite not necessarily being the best source of revenue for them, many networks are now starting to pour more resources into producing high quality documentaries for their viewers.
ESPN, a network created solely to feature news, updates, and shows about mainstream sports like basketball, football, American football, and tennis (among others), was initially relegated to the background, as HBO used to be the only channel producing sports documentaries. This changed when ESPN launched the 30 for 30 series, which delivered high-quality and well-researched documentaries to all their viewers. After this, sports documentaries went on to fill a good part of major sporting networks’ programming. Currently, the go-to place for the sports documentary is up in the air; one thing is certain, though: HBO had definitely been dethroned.
But was ESPN’s 30 for 30 the sole cause of the viewer’s attention shift on sports documentary programming? Or was there another element that factored in on the tables being turned?
HBO was a network that built its reputation of top-quality documentaries on the backs of great writers and documentarians under the direction of Ross Greenburg. Between 2007 and 2012 (when Greenburg was president of the company), the network won the Emmy for Outstanding Sports Documentary 5 times, for productions such as The Ghosts of Flatbrush, Lombardi, Assault in the Ring, among others. When Greenburg resigned in 2011, his team of in-house writers left with him and HBO was left with a lot of content to produce, but no one to actually produce it.
Ken Hershman, HBO Sport’s new CEO took a new view to the production of these documentaries, with great results. The network has always been air-tight about the personnel they hire to work on their programming, but under Hershman’s administration, HBO opened its doors to independent producers and other filmmakers out there, allowing these to lend their talents to the network. Hershman was looking to keep HBO Sports’ legacy of top-quality documentaries alive, and if using outside talent was the way forward, then so be it. The documentary about NBA hall-of-famer Kareem-Abdul Jabbar was proof that this model could work.
Hershman’s new direction also featured more dynamic storytelling methods, which included using different narrators and using more contemporary scores to accompany narratives, as opposed to Greenburg’s preferences which relied mostly on classic stories with matching classic musical scores.
However, not even this change was able to keep the spotlight on HBO, as ESPN’s 30 for 30 took the sports documentary scene by storm and absolutely destroyed the competition by providing the audience with high production values and interesting topics on all their programs. In contrast with HBO’s decision to rely on outside talent for their shows, ESPN got into direct contact with Hollywood producers. The end result was a series of documentaries that used moving images to reenact the story they’re telling, akin to movies, instead of narrating it like so many others. Good examples of documentaries made by ESPN are The Band That Wouldn’t Die or Straight Outta L.A. Needless to say, the series quickly became a massive hit.
30 for 30 went on to become a critically acclaimed series and a financial success for ESPN, and since its inception, it has expanded into other programming blocks, like digital shorts, or IX for 9, which is similar to 30 for 30, with the difference being that their documentaries are exclusively about women in sports.
ESPN has built a brand with their 30 for 30 series. It's similar to what HBO once had, until for a number of reasons, they slowly lost their grasp on the genre. Now, most sports networks are aware of the importance of having high-quality documentaries among their lineups of shows; once the main sporting events are over and done with for the season, the timelessness of alternative programming blocks can fill in the gaps and keep the audience interested, strengthening the viewer’s patronage of the network in the process.
Hershman has gone on record stating that they will increase the amount of meetings with independent producers and listen to their ideas, and that he will strive to keep HBO Sports series on sports documentaries alive, which is a pretty good prospect considering that everyone now has ESPN’s example to follow. With that sort of ‘mentoring’ you can’t go wrong!
About the Author: Juan López is a freelance writer living in Venezuela, and offers all sorts of writing services to any interested parties. You may contact him at his personal email firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook.