Will Staeger, senior vice-president of programming at IMG Original Content – the US company that produced the Juventus series and recently secured foreign broadcast rights for Serie A – doesn’t think the shows are an Americanisation of predominantly European sport. “I don’t agree that there’s an American storytelling approach to it,” he said. “There’s a natural storytelling structure: it’s like a movie.”But other producers have looked to the US for inspiration. Eden says he loved ESPN’s 30 for 30 and Netflix’s American football docu-series Last Chance U, which follows university players who have been booted out of top-level programmes and are trying to kickstart their careers. The show, which is returning for a third season next year, was just as much about the off-the-field challenges the players faced as touchdowns and yardage. Share via Email New Zealand rugby union team Stuart Heritage The chance to attract lucrative sponsorship and a potential hike in merchandise sales has led clubs to follow in the footsteps of docu-series such as Last Chance U, about a college football team in Mississippi, by letting camera crews have access to their biggest stars in the hope that the money follows ratings.On Friday, Netflix released First Team: Juventus, a sleek behind-the-scenes series which follows the Italian club as it attempts to win its first Champions League title since 1996 and secure a seventh consecutive Scudetto shield. Amazon Prime is following Manchester City’s season for a series to be released in September.Juventus see the docu-series as a chance to reach Netflix’s 100 million worldwide subscribers and get closer to becoming what Federico Palomba, the club’s head of marketing, calls “a sport entertainment entity”. Pinterest Share on WhatsApp Share on Twitter Reuse this content Netflix ‘The business of football is becoming sophisticated and expensive’ says the Juventus head of marketing, Federico Palomba. Photograph: Daniele Badolato/Juventus FC via Getty Images Share on Facebook College football Kieran Read of the All Blacks leads his team in the haka. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images Pinterest Facebook Facebook That approach requires buy-in from the teams involved and needed Eden to gain the trust of the All Blacks. “When you go into anything like this there are concerns from some that it would be a distraction,” he says. “Rather than being the fly on the wall, you might end up being the elephant in the room. But credit to the All Blacks: when they lost matches and were having difficulties on the field they let us in. When tough decisions were made about players we were there.” Eden had cameras in the room after the All Blacks lost against the Lions in the second test, and it’s that kind of access that will determine whether or not these shows succeed or fail.Palomba says Juventus expect to see the impact of First Team within 18 months. Netflix famously doesn’t release viewing statistics, so Juventus will judge its impact by whether or not they experience increased merchandised sales and foreign sponsorship enquiries. Football fans will be able to judge for themselves this week whether or not the new era of streaming sports documentaries live up to the hype. Brothers in Netflix’s Last Chance U charged in connection with stabbing death Television Amazon Prime Video Read more Rugby union Topics Twitter Twitter news Read more Last Chance U’s Brittany Wagner: meet the world’s best soccer mom Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Juventus “It’s one step in the cultural change that football is undergoing,” says Palomba. “It’s not just about sport, it’s also about entertainment.” At the moment Palomba says Juventus have a “handicap” compared to Premier League and La Liga teams because Serie A doesn’t have the same lucrative foreign broadcast rights or name recognition. That’s something he hopes the series will help to negate.“In the 90s, Serie A was the number one league in the world but we haven’t grown like the UK or La Liga in Spain, so now we have to fill a big gap,” he says. Palomba believes First Team offers the club a chance to get into homes all over the world, which at the moment aren’t accessible. “The business of football is becoming sophisticated and expensive,” he adds. “And so the money a team can make on the domestic market is not enough. We need to create new opportunities.”Rugby clubs are also hoping to expand their international standing by partnering with programme makers; a documentary about the All Blacks’ exploits last summer during the Lions tour is in post-production. The All Blacks were similarly open about the fact they see their upcoming Amazon docu-series as a marketing tool to reach millions of potential fans. “This is an incredible opportunity to take the unique story of the All Blacks into a huge number of markets and households around the world,” said Steve Tew, New Zealand Rugby’s chief executive in August, when the series was announced. But does that objective of worldwide expansion mean traditional fans will be disappointed?When Channel Five and Fox Sports gained access to Liverpool’s operation in 2012, many found the resulting Being Liverpool series a letdown. One of the main criticisms was that the access felt thin and stage-managed, with former Liverpool player Mark Lawrenson calling the Emmy nominated show “American schmaltz”. “This is not really about the inner-workings of a football club,” wrote the Guardian’s Andy Hunter. “But [it has] everything to do with promoting Liverpool in a glossy, Hello! magazine style to a global (particularly American) audience.”Avoiding that criticism was something Eden Gaha, the executive producer of the All Blacks documentary, was conscious of. “It was something we wrestled with throughout,” he says. “We wanted to tell the best story we could tell from a rugby stand-point. We didn’t think ‘there are going to be Americans watching this so we need to explain the rules of rugby’. We thought they will ultimately understand it through osmosis and people who love the game will appreciate that.” Share on Messenger Sports clubs hoping to expand their fan base in an increasingly competitive international market are turning to Amazon Prime and Netflix to boost their fortunes by signing up for fly-on-the-wall documentaries.
Touch Football Australia has honoured three of the most significant players to ever take part in the National Touch League by naming the Tony Eltakchi, Mark Boland and Angela Barr commemorative shields. For more information visit the NTL website