As we’re in the golden age of sports documentaries, there’s an undeniable gold rush for sports networks to take advantage of the interest in the medium.  ESPN has turned 30 for 30 (and the larger specter of ESPN Films) into one of the most respected brands in all of sports with the tonnage of high quality documentaries that tell a myriad of compelling sports stories in all different sizes, shapes, and forms.

Other networks have entered into the documentary space in recent years, but now one of ESPN’s competitors will be launching a similar department to firmly plant their flag in the field.  NBC Sports is developing a new division, NBC Sports Films, that will see all its documentaries on all of its platforms take place under one umbrella.  The new NBC Sports Films officially launches with a documentary on former Bruins Stanley Cup champion Derek Sanderson on NBCSN following Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The announcement from NBC:

NBC Sports Group announced today the launch of NBC Sports Films, a new initiative that will leverage NBC Olympics’ Emmy Award-winning storytelling heritage and personnel to produce sports documentaries that will air across NBC Sports Group’s multiple platforms. NBC Sports Films will annually produce multiple long-form projects to be presented across NBC, NBCSN, NBC Sports Regional Networks and NBC Sports Digital. 

NBC Sports Films’ first project, Center of Attention: The Unreal Life of Derek Sanderson, a one-hour documentary that chronicles the remarkable life of former NHL star and two-time Stanley Cup Champion Derek Sanderson, will premiere on NBCSN on Monday, June 8, following Game 3 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. 

“Storytelling has always been a prominent component of NBC Sports’ coverage of signature events. We are excited to expand those efforts and further serve our audience by providing additional long-form content across all NBC Sports Group platforms,” said Mark Levy, Senior Vice President, Original Productions and Creative, NBC Sports Group. “Our debut film, Center of Attention, is a compelling portrait of the extraordinary life of Derek Sanderson, who has lived the highest of highs and the most challenging lows a life in the spotlight can produce.”

This makes so much sense.  Up till this point NBC has produced a number of captivating documentaries, but they have somewhat slipped through the cracks in the mind of the general sports fan because the efforts have been very individualized.  Maybe one for the Olympics here, one for the hockey there, and so on.  Now with NBC Sports Films, hopefully the network can develop a consistent schedule of documentaries so fans will know where and when they can tune in to catch them.  Even if NBC wants to attach the films to their live sports properties, re-airs at consistent times would do wonders for the DVRs of fans.

Furthermore, the creation of NBC Sports Films is a sign that the network is serious about amping up their documentary outfit.  And while ESPN is far and away the leader in the category, there’s certainly enough room for more competitors to emerge.  It’s not like we’re going to run out of interesting sports stories anytime soon, so more high-quality documentaries can only be an encouraging development for fans.

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