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Why sports documentaries are taking over streaming services

Sports documentaries are occupying a larger slice of streaming platforms. Here are a few reasons why sports documentaries have proven to be such a hit.

Why sports documentaries are taking over streaming services

Bingewatching streaming services is now one of the defining activities of the 21st century. Ever since brands like Netflix and Amazon started providing their customers with a subscription-based way to watch a massive amount of movies and TV shows, there’s been a rush to keep up with the phenomenal demand.

While boxset shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones can prove to be massive hits, the sad fact is that most original streaming TV shows and movies sink without a trace. However, it seems that sports documentaries are starting to occupy a larger slice of these streaming platforms. Here are a few reasons why sports documentaries have proven to be such a hit.

The thrill of real-life victory

You never know what you’re going to get with real-life sporting events, and sports documentaries give you a great way to relive the thrill. It’s the same reason why many sports fans get involved in fantasy sports – to get closer to the emotional core of the event.

Daily fantasy sports websites emerged in 2007 and gained quick popularity by the sports fans, as they give people the chance to get more involved in the sports they know and love. 

Today, you can find many great resources online trying to answer the question between the two most prominent websites, DraftKings vs FanDuel who wins? But rather than seeing which fantasy sports brand offers them the best service, sports fans can also sit back and enjoy some sports documentaries.

While many Hollywood movies have attempted to recreate the drama of significant sporting events, not even iconic sports films like Raging Bull and Jerry Maguire can create the sheer emotional spectacle of a real-life sporting triumph. 

Recently, we’ve seen dramatic sports documentaries that focus on enigmatic characters like Diego Maradona, and these iconic figures can offer us the perfect example of how life can be stranger than fiction.

Lower production costs

Recently we have seen many streaming services breaking the bank to try and deliver big-budget TV shows. Some of Netflix’s recent releases have cost the streaming brand around $60 million per season, and the fail rate of many homegrown TV shows and movies can be devastating.

But for sports documentaries, there’s no need to hire actors, scriptwriters or find locations. The drama is already taking place, and it’s often just a case of being in the right place at the right time.

Obviously, there’s a certain amount of skill in doing this, and production companies will have to spend significant resources in getting the rights to film the most prominent sporting franchises. But as the hugely popular Ayrton Senna documentary proved, even recycling past footage can pull in some massive viewing figures.

Ready-made audiences

When streaming services serve up their homegrown TV shows and movies, they are facing a tough challenge in getting cynical audiences to invest the emotional energy into a completely unknown product. But with sports documentaries, there’s already a ready-made audience that’s more than willing to learn more about their favourite teams and players.

It’s something that Amazon have realized with their All or Nothing sports documentaries. Here we get to see exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of some of the biggest sporting franchises such as the Manchester City and Los Angeles Rams. It’s a formula that is going to continue with the exploits of Tottenham Hotspur in the current Premier League scene.

So will we ever see saturation point reached in the public’s thirst for sports documentaries? It seems unlikely because as long as the sport continues to give us euphoric highs and crushing lows, then there will be millions of sports fans who will be more than willing to relive the action.

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Simone Barbon's ghostwriting resume is long and illustrious, though you'll never see it. She is also a screenwriting teacher and freelance script reader. Her grandson is her favorite thing to watch, though.

simoneb@filmdaily.co

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