The last three years have seen Showtime do an all-access show on a NCAA football team, titled A Season With and covering Notre Dame, Florida State and Navy respectively. But this year will not feature a fourth A Season With. A Showtime spokesperson told AA’s Ben Koo that “the stars didn’t align this season,” but that they could do future versions of this series in the coming years:
“This series presents unique challenges for both the team and network. Finding the right team, at the right time, prepared to grant unlimited access when it matters most—in-season—is not an easy task. Although the stars didn’t align this season, we will continue to pursue the most compelling FBS programs for next season and beyond.”
The A Season With shows have received a pretty decent critical reception, but they haven’t always made a massive impact in the wider landscape, and this last year’s edition on Navy was perhaps particularly tough there; there were lots of interesting stories to tell about the challenges that school’s facing, but it doesn’t have the football fanbase of Florida State or Notre Dame. And it should be noted that there’s a whole lot of competition out there in the “all-access college football documentary” space, from Amazon’s All Or Nothing series on Michigan to ESPN’s all-access series on Alabama training camp to the various conference networks’ behind-the-scenes looks. So that’s maybe an argument that exactly the right team is needed to make a series that has a wider impact, and maybe this time around, Showtime wasn’t able to sign a deal with a team that would move the needle enough.
It’s also worth discussing that these kinds of series have benefits beyond the school and the network, too, often in exposure for the makers of the the school’s athletic apparel. And that’s led to some talk about those apparel makers helping to front some of the costs (including fees for the school and production expenses). On that front, it’s perhaps significant that both Notre Dame and Navy have apparel deals with Under Armour. (Florida State, on the other hand, has a deal with Nike.) A 2015 Showtime basketball documentary also wound up featuring just Notre Dame and Maryland, both Under Armour schools, despite initial plans to also include Nike schools Wichita State and Oklahoma. So maybe there wasn’t an interested apparel maker this time around, and maybe that made it more difficult to find a workable deal.
At any rate, that Showtime statement definitely makes it sound like there could be more A Season With entries down the road. But there won’t be one in 2018. We’ll see if this series does in fact return at some point, and if so, which school it winds up covering.