It appears that ESPN+ is going to play a large role in the future of 30 for 30. ESPN announced that its next 30 for 30 film will debut on ESPN+ before debuting on the traditional television network.
Seau, a biographical documentary about All-Pro linebacker Junior Sean, will premier on ESPN+ on September 20. The movie will premier on ESPN at a later date, which has not yet been announced. The Last Days of Knight, an inside look at the CNN investigation that eventually led the University of Indiana to fire basketball coach Bobby Knight, debuted on ESPN+ back in April. It will make its television debut on Thursday, November 29.
ESPN appears to be using the debuts of event 30 for 30 films to push subscriptions and/or free trials of ESPN+. The OTT streaming service also debuted a six-part 30 for 30 miniseries earlier this year called Enhanced. Sean Keeley of Awful Announcing called it a smart strategy for the OTT service.
There’s only so much live content that they’re able to push to the subscription service without damaging their cable networks and online platforms, but scripted and documentary films like these are a perfect way to add value (and perhaps new subscribers) to their offering. And some of these may eventually make their way to TV as well, as we’ve now seen with “The Last Days of Knight.”
ESPN did announce one new 30 for 30 doc that won’t go through the streaming service first. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it will focus on a day in October of 1992 when Deion Sanders played an NFL game in Miami and two MLB playoff games in Pittsburgh, all within a span of 24 hours. That film will debut on ESPN in January.
The network also announced a new 30 for 30 Short about Australian daredevil Felix Baumgartner’s free fall from outer space. It will debut on ESPN on September 23. There is also a new season of 30 for 30 Podcasts on the way. The upcoming season will return to series of single documentaries after last season featured five episodes focusing on one story. New podcasts begin in October.