SBJ/April 3-9, 2017/Media

Four more years for ‘Hard Knocks’

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“Hard Knocks” — the original sports reality series — will remain on HBO for at least the next four seasons. HBO Sports, NFL Media and NFL Films signed a long-term deal to keep the reality series on the network.

A formal announcement is expected to come this week.

“Hard Knocks” debuted in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens, and its popularity helped spawn several other behind-the-scenes reality shows, from the “24-7” series that appeared on HBO to “A Season With …” on Showtime.

The series, which is co-produced by NFL Films and HBO and usually narrated by Liev Schreiber, proved to be so popular that other leagues used the format for their own shows. MLB produced “The Franchise” for Showtime, and the NHL found success with the “24/7” and the “Road to the Winter Classic” reality series.

‘Hard Knocks’ through the years

Year Team
2001 Baltimore Ravens
2002 Dallas Cowboys
2007 Kansas City Chiefs
2008 Dallas Cowboys
2009 Cincinnati Bengals
2010 New York Jets
2012 Miami Dolphins
2013 Cincinnati Bengals
2014 Atlanta Falcons
2015 Houston Texans
2016 Los Angeles Rams

The 12th edition of “Hard Knocks” is set to debut Aug. 8 with a yet-to-be-named team.

The series has been a critical success, winning 14 Sports Emmy awards. But it’s also been the focus of some controversy. Many teams have decided against being part of the series, worried about potential distractions as they prepare for the season. The Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals have appeared twice.

Four years ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he wanted a more formal rotation of teams to be involved with the series and guaranteed that at least one team would take part each year. At the time, the league decided that teams could opt out only if they had a first-year head coach or had done “Hard Knocks” within the previous 10 years.

— John Ourand


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