It’s hard to know from afar whether Kobe Bryant’s Detail was a success for ESPN. The basketball analysis show, which aired throughout the NBA playoffs, was available exclusively through the subscriber-only streaming service ESPN+, so there are no ratings, and we can’t know how many people watched or how many new sign-ups it drove. Most of the buzz around the show concerned the idea that Kobe was cursing the players he focused on, but that attention beats no attention at all.
But at least one person is satisfied with how Detail: Kobe himself. In an interview with the Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps, Kobe said he was so pleased with the series that he’s already plotting expansion.
“We’re extremely happy,” he said. “We’re very happy with how it’s come out and what the response has been to it. We’re all pretty thrilled about it, and also the opportunity of other minds and other experts in your fields doing similar things. It’s just very exciting for this next generation of athletes to be able to have access to such experienced minds and to be able to learn from them at a much, much younger stage to … speed up their learning curve.”
You did read that right: Bryant said “minds” when talking about the next generation of athletes having access to stars of today, and yesterday, dispensing wisdom on how they watch the game and what they see in today’s players. His goal, though he said nothing has been agreed to yet with ESPN, is to expand the series beyond him talking about basketball.
“We’re already planning ahead,” he said. “We’re looking at taking ‘Detail’ and expanding it actually and moving ‘Detail’ into other sports.”
So, for example, Peyton Manning could break down film of quarterbacks, or Barry Bonds could break down someone’s batting stance.
On Detail, Kobe broke down specific performances from specific players, in a wonky style geared toward basketball players looking to improve their games. The former MVP reiterated in his conversation with the Post that the show “is not meant to entertain” but is instead “for people that want to be serious athletes, people that want to be serious basketball players.”
Without knowing how many people watched Detail, we can’t know what ESPN’s reaction would be to the idea of similar shows about other sports, but you have to think the network would be happy to bring other superstar athletes into the fold. Given how aggressively the network pursued Peyton Manning for a game-analyst role, it seems the idea of having him (or a comparable star) driving subscribers to ESPN+ would certainly have some appeal.
At first, Detail seemed like an odd fit on ESPN+, given the abundance of basketball analysis available for free on other platforms, but Kobe’s name, plus his decision to take the show in a different direction from its competitors, seemed to make the gambit work. We’ll see how far Kobe and ESPN are willing to go wth it.