HBO has a way of taking a regular sports storyline and making people care far more than the average fan does. They’ve given sports fans a look at boxers training for a big title bout, NFL teams preparing for the season and most recently a four episode look at the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals in advance of the NHL’s Winter Classic.
Their series HBO Hard Knocks is a ratings monster and compelling television. It gives you an in-depth behind the scenes access of an NFL team that the average fan never sees. This year the series covered the New York Jets and their preparation for the 2010 NFL season.
It made a star out of foul mouth coach Rex Ryan, while he’s probably no more foul mouthed than most other NFL coaches, Hard Knocks gave us a look at what really goes on behind the scenes at the NFL training camps.
HBO is looking to expand their series to include other leagues. Major League Baseball has already expressed interest, it seems like a no-brainer for leagues looking to increases viewership and interest in their sports. The Winter Classic was the most watching NHL regular season game since 1975, that was back before digital cable and a plethora of choices.
It’s interesting that the NBA has apparently rebuffed HBO’s requests for a 24/7 look at the National Basketball Association on several occasions.
On the surface, an NBA 24/7 would be a ratings monster. Case in point 7.3 million of us watched ESPN’s “The Decision” making it the highest rated show on that particular night. An HBO 24/7 would have fans salivating but considering David Stern’s iron grip on the leagues image, it’s understandable that the NBA would hold off on a 24/7 type series.
HBO is compelling television but when the lasting memory of HBO Hardknocks is Antonio Cromartie naming all his kids (video), North American viewers might not be ready for what goes on behind the scenes of their favorites NBA franchise. Especially after the the Grizzlies, OJ Mayo was mauled by teammate Tony Allen for not paying a gambling debt.