The Netflix docuseries Formula 1: Drive To Survive has drawn rave reviews and massive interest across three seasons to date, with a fourth coming this year. The company behind that series, London-based Box to Box Films (also known for Showtime boxing docuseries The Kings, Amazon Steven Gerrard documentary Make Us Dream, and Amazon soccer documentary The Three Kings), fully announced earlier this week that they’re doing a Netflix series on selected PGA Tour players (which had been reported since September), and then announced Friday that they’re doing a Netflix series on selected pro tennis players, starting with the Australian Open (which has its main draw beginning on Monday, and has some interesting controversy going on around if reigning champion Novak Djokovic will be able to play). Here’s more on what to expect from the tennis series, via Lucas Shaw at Bloomberg:
The world’s most popular paid-video streaming service is working on a docuseries about professional tennis players that will take viewers behind the scenes of the professional tour, following the blueprint of its popular racing show “Formula 1: Drive to Survive.” Netflix has secured deals with the ATP and WTA, the governing bodies for tennis, as well as the four Grand Slam tournaments. Box to Box Films, the company that produces “Drive to Survive,” is also making the tennis series.
Netflix didn’t specify which players it would profile in the series. Production began at this year’s Australian Open and will feature equal time for the men and women.
And here’s more on the golf series, via Joel Beale at Golf Digest:
The PGA Tour—along with Augusta National Golf Club, the PGA of America, the USGA and the R&A—have granted access to the streaming giant to “capture the intensity of training, travel, victory and defeat through the lens of a diverse group of players and their support teams.” The show will be golf’s version of Netflix’s popular “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” series.
A press release from Netflix boasts a deep lineup of starpower and personality. The commitments, in alphabetical order: Abraham Ancer, Daniel Berger, Cameron Champ, Joel Dahmen, Tony Finau, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Harry Higgs, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Kevin Na, Mito Pereira, Ian Poulter, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Bubba Watson. World No. 1 amateur Keita Nakajima has also signed up.
The series will be produced by Vox Media Studios and Box To Box Films, the latter which is behind the aforementioned “Drive to Survive.”
AA’s Jay Rigdon had more analysis on the golf series earlier this week:
If it comes off as it sounds on paper, it could really make for a fascinating project. The list of players they’re going to be following for 2022 (some filming has apparently already taken place) is promising, with storylines up and down the list. It also features a few up-and-coming names that might get more airtime during the Netflix show than they get all season on traditional broadcasts. That’s what makes the F1 show work so well for Netflix; the first season saw top teams (at the time) Mercedes and Ferrari sit out as they felt it would be more of a distraction than anything.
The idea of docuseries following teams during a season has been around for a while, including with the NHL Road to the Winter Classic (originally on HBO, then Epix, then NBCSN, and now TNT), with Amazon’s various All or Nothing series in soccer, the NFL, college football, and the NHL, and with this year’s in-season Hard Knocks on HBO. But Drive to Survive in particular has definitely boosted the interest in season-long documentaries, and the amount of chatter about them; its focus on drivers from different teams is also interesting, and is closer to ESPN+’s NHL All Access: Quest For The Stanley Cup and its league-wide focus than the specific team focuses of many of the aforementioned docuseries. And it’s notable to see a Drive to Survive-style approach for golf and tennis. We’ll see how these series work out.