Kobe Bryant's Film-Focused Hoops Show Debuts With ESPN+ Launch
Kobe Bryant's new ESPN+ show will involve him "taking viewers through the process of breaking down film and solving the playoff puzzle," according to Sam Amick of USA TODAY. The show, called “Detail,” debuted Thursday alongside the launch of the new streaming service and "will run throughout the NBA playoffs." There are 15 episodes scheduled, with seven slated to air during the NBA Finals. Bryant is credited as the "writer, producer and host" of the venture, which is a "partnership between ESPN and Bryant’s Granity Studios." He said, “When people talk about basketball -- the playoffs, in particular -- they keep it on a very superficial level. ... But nobody is looking at why things happen." He added, "I used to break down film in a very, very specific way in order to win a game in the playoffs. So I actually created a show that was just that. If I took on the personality of James Harden, of Steph Curry, DeMar DeRozan, whoever. If I was them and we just played Game 1, I go home and I watch Game 1, (so) what am I learning from that? What would I be studying for that to get ready for Game 2? That's what this show is” (USATODAY.com, 4/12). In L.A., Tania Ganguli notes the project has a "very narrow focus" and Bryant "isn't concerned about creating a show that has a broad appeal." He said, "There will be certain things that a casual fan may not understand. There will be certain things they won't get but I do believe that will pull them along." Bryant added the "elite, high level of conversation" will "pull fans along where they understand the game and see the game at a deeper level." The first episode features Bryant "breaking down Game 6 of the 2009 Western Conference Finals" (L.A. TIMES, 4/13).
JUST THE BEGINNING: ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said the launch of ESPN+ will be a “fluid process” and the company “will examine the data daily and make changes both on the product side and also on the content side.” He added ESPN will “try to secure additional rights.” CNBC’s Julia Boorstin noted Disney Chair of Direct-to-Consumer & Int'l Kevin Mayer said ESPN+ “may generate losses for a number of years but it will be profitable in the not too distant future.” Pitaro: “In a world where things are changing not just monthly but weekly and in fact daily, we like the fact that ESPN+ will give us that optionality.” CNBC contributor Dan Nathan said, "Think of this as a beta test." Nathan: "They're going to add a lot of stuff to this. If you're a shareholder in Disney and you think there’s going to be an ESPN turnaround, this excites you. If doesn’t matter in three months what the numbers are. If they continue to innovate on this thing they’re going to migrate tons of ‘SportsCenter’ content eventually on it.” But CNBC contributor Steve Grasso said ESPN+ is going to “cannibalize” their other products (“Fast Money,” CNBC, 4/12).
EARLY REVIEWS: CABLEFAX DAILY notes there was some "confusion" on social media yesterday "over how to actually get" ESPN+. Instead of "searching for it in the app store," consumers must "download the ESPN app to access ESPN+ content." But after downloading the app "things got a bit more confusing." Consumers are "given the option to log in to the ESPN app or sign up later." Choosing the latter "immediately brought up the video rich ESPN app with ESPN+ content interwoven." A fair assumption would be consumers "couldn’t watch something like the '30 for 30' premiere of 'The Last Days of Knight' without subscribing or at least agreeing to a trial," but it is possible to "view the whole documentary" without doing so (CABLEFAX DAILY, 4/13). THE ATHLETIC's Guillermo Rivera wrote ESPN+ is "easy to navigate and select preferences." Finding MLS matches is "not difficult and as advertised, there is plenty of other content to choose from" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/12).