For the first time in 20 years, Hard Knocks is going in-season. HBO’s behind-the-scenes, multi-episode NFL series will produce a version during the NFL season, with the Indianapolis Colts being the first team featured. The announcement was made during halftime of NFL Network’s broadcast of the New York Giants – Washington Football Team game.
The series is set to premiere on November 17 on HBO.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) September 17, 2021
This new version of Hard Knocks is not a replacement but a “new” version. The preseason version will continue next season as it normally has, presumably following a different NFL team as they prepare for the regular season.
The format appears to mimic Amazon’s All or Nothing, which has followed various NFL teams (and franchises from other sports) during the regular season. In April, there were reports of friction between the NFL and Amazon regarding the series. At the time, there were reportedly concerns about the show’s accelerated filming schedule and a reluctance of coaches to allow sensitive information to be filmed during a season in which they’re still competing. How or why that has changed so that Hard Knocks can essentially pick up the baton and run with it remains unclear.
If audiences are wondering what kind of insights they can expect from an in-season version of Hard Knocks, a look back at older All of Nothing seasons might provide some clues. While you’re not likely to come away with inside knowledge, access to players will certainly drive the narratives. And if the Colts are able to compete for a playoff spot, all the more intriguing.