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Playing to survive: Premier League in talks to develop Drive to Survive-style show

The production studio that created the mega hit Drive to Survive for Netflix has contacted the Premier League about a prospective TV show that would follow the division for the behemoth streaming service.

Early in September, teams in the English top division were made aware that discussions were about to begin about a potential initiative that was intended to help the Premier League achieve the same kind of unprecedented results that Drive to Survive has already produced for Formula One.

A number of recent behind-the-scenes films have focused on Premier League teams, including Netflix’s Sunderland ‘Til I Die and Amazon Prime’s All or Nothing series, which first focused on Manchester City before moving on to rival north London sides Tottenham and Arsenal.

However, production would have to start next year, since the 2022-23 season is currently underway, with 7 matchweeks on the books and punters already enjoying offerings such as the Betmaster promo code India to wager on the future winners of this edition of the Premier League.

Clubs already approached

It’s believed that Box-to-Box, the creative studio and production company behind Steven Gerrard’s documentary Make us Dream (which is available on Amazon Prime Video), contacted each club separately about the possible project.

However, the success of any initiative would depend on the 20 clubs reaching a consensus and determining how much access they are willing to give to film crews.

Although discussions are about to start, neither the Premier League nor the creative team have spoken on the proposal.

Same impact as Drive to Survive is the main goal

By focusing on sports docs instead of more expensive live rights, Netflix has experienced considerable success in the past few years. TV viewership for Formula One, for example, surged by roughly 40 percent after the release of Drive to Survive in the United States.

In fact, Silverstone Circuit’s managing director, Stuart Pringle, has cited the Netflix series as one of the main reasons for the sharply rising demand for tickets to the venue for the British Grand Prix.

Tennis, golf, and Formula One series helped the streaming giant “attract people who hadn’t watched sports or watched Formula One”, according to Brandon Riegg, head of unscripted programming and documentaries at Netflix, who made the statement to Bloomberg earlier this year.

Additionally, Riegg brought up the popular highlights shows for basketball and American football, such as Inside the NFL, Inside the NBA, Hard Knocks and many others, that have been broadcast in the United States for many years. “How long has Inside the NFL been going on? Or Inside the NBA?”, said Riegg. “We’re trying to build that same virtuous cycle”.

It is difficult to think that the goal of a series would be to capture a new generation of fans given that the Premier League has grown to be one of the most popular athletic brands in the world, with 3.2 billion spectators tuning in in 2019–20 alone, and huge fan bases spread throughout the globe.

However, given the popularity of sports documentaries in the United States, the chance to delve into untapped markets would probably result in significant financial rewards for the 20 clubs involved, particularly the Big Six – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Tottenham.

The value of the Premier League’s international broadcast rights, which is regarded to be the area with the most development potential for the division despite the league being one of the most watched tournaments in the world, could also be increased by a documentary series supported by Netflix’s powerful broadcasting capabilities.

A project might be advantageous for both sides and give fans an unparalleled view of the inner workings of the league, especially in light of Netflix’s announcement earlier this year that its subscriber base had declined by 200,000.

Sky Sports aiming to rival Netflix

According to rumours, Sky Sports wants to compete with Netflix to produce the documentary series about the Premier League.

As reported by the Telegraph, in case the 20 clubs approve the project of shooting a season-long documentary, the English top-flight’s largest broadcast partner, Sky Sports, which is owned by the US telecommunications titan Comcast, wants to be in the running to produce it.

Sky presently pays approximately £3.6 billion over a three-year cycle for its rights package, which was rolled over from the prior agreement with government approval last year. With its pay-TV business model, the broadcaster has been crucial to the Premier League’s 30-year ascension.

Sky has also informed teams that they do not believe Drive To Survive was the sole factor in the current surge in interest in the sport. The company, which has been the Formula One’s British broadcast partner since 2011 and has a contract that extends through 2024, thinks that its coverage, combined with the relationships it has developed with the F1 teams, has played a significant role in this transformation.

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