Up to this point, ESPN has basically cornered the market on sports documentaries with its 30 for 30 series, but Fox Sports is about to enter that realm and release six 30-minute documentaries leading up to the 2014 World Cup.
Airing on Fox Sports 1, the documentaries are a part of Budweiser’s “Rise As One” promotional campaign, and will tell stories that most casual fans won’t already know. Developed by Budweiser and Fox Sports, the films were produced and directed by Scott Boggins and Gabriel Spitzer, who have a combined 15 Emmy Awards.
And the films should be well-received.
The first documentary in the series – airing March 25 on Fox Sports 1 – is about the Japanese women’s national team winning the World Cup after the 2011 tsunami. The subsequent episodes in the series are stories about the 1998 World Cup champion French team helping racism in France, a friendly between Brazil and Haiti, the Zambian national team rebuilding after a devastating plane crash killed all but three members of the team, and a friendly between Germany and Great Britain on Christmas during World War I. None of the stories are overtly well-known to an American audience. Giving these interesting – albeit short with only 30 minutes – stories a national audience should be enlightening, while also giving Fox Sports an increased air of soccer legitimacy.
ESPN will overload its coverage of the World Cup, as they should because they lose it after this year. Fox Sports doesn’t have the rights to this year’s tournament, but this is a promising step for the future rightsholder. To provide sophisticated, serious programming like this around the World Cup is necessary for them, especially with a fledgling network like Fox Sports 1. Fox has four years to prepare for its World Cup 2018 and then in 2022. Hopefully content like this is a sign of things to come when the quadrennial soccer tournament shifts broadcasters.