SBD/April 21, 2017/World Congress of Sports

"O.J." Documentary Shows Changes Of "30 For 30" Product Since Launching In '09

Schell is excited about the expanding universe of content delivery options
The documentary “O.J.: Made in America” not only took home an Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards, but it also literally changed the game for both ESPN and future filmmakers to be considered for the honor. ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer for Original Content Connor Schell said he was not worried about breaking the format when the finished product was nearly eight hours long. Even though it honored the film, the Academy still rewrote the rules to say that multi-part or limited series will no longer be eligible for awards consideration. “Is this TV? Or is this film?,” said Schell. “I never contemplated that or cared about it. It was, 'Can we tell a really good story and put it out as many places as people can experience it?'”

THE ’30’ EVOLUTION: Schell said ESPN’s “30 for 30” series has come a long way from its genesis a decade ago. “As consumption has changed and the way people watch TV has fundamentally changed and binge-watching has evolved, long-form has evolved to just mean ‘complete,’ whether that’s 17 minutes or 480 minutes,” he said. “You can get people to engage with something no matter how long it is if you do your job well.” And now that the mold has been broken, Schell is excited about the expanding universe of content delivery options. “Now I’m thinking, How do we innovate?” he said. “Because now there’s a lot of people telling non-fiction stories in interesting ways. If you think about all the places ESPN content is consumed, you can break formats. Things don’t have to be 22 minutes long with eight minutes of commercials. They don’t have to fit into a one-hour session.”
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