SBD/June 14, 2011/Media

ESPN Films Adds Content On ESPN Classic, Will Launch New Documentary Series

ESPN Films beginning this week will "create a weekend destination" on ESPN Classic, "designed to become the regular home for long-form sports storytelling," according to Georg Szalai of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The new effort, "ESPN Films on Classic," will "showcase sports films for 50 hours each weekend," starting at 10:00pm ET every Friday through midnight Sunday. In addition, ESPN Films "plans to launch this fall an annual documentary film series on the flagship ESPN channel," called "ESPN Films Presents," that will continue to showcase films that follow the "30 for 30" parameters. This fall's series "will feature six films with future years expected to have six to eight." Among the films "planned for this fall are 'Sign Here' by Morgan Spurlock about sports agents and the sports business," and documentaries from the '11 Tribeca Film Festival including "Catching Hell," Alex Gibney's film about Cubs fan Steve Bartman. ESPN Films Exec Producer Connor Schell said that the "30 for 30" series “exceeded all expectations and therefore led the company to look for a way to continue in the same vein.” ESPN Classic averaged 20,000 viewers in primetime in Q1, down from 24,000 in the last quarter of '10. But Szalai notes "ESPN Films on Classic" is "less about viewer numbers and more about giving ESPN Films and ‘30 for 30’ fans a specific destination they can regularly turn to.” ESPN Films also will "look for further acquisitions that fit its focus on long-form sports narrative and complement existing content” (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 6/14).

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