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Better sports documentaries: HBO or ESPN?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by lantaur, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. lantaur

    lantaur Well-Known Member

    I've been enjoying these 30 for 30 documentaties on ESPN, but I also have always liked the way HBO has done theirs (and that they have done sports docs, period).

    Been reading really good things about HBO's latest on the Broad Street Bullies. It got me to thinking which network does them better? Even though ESPN's has been top notch - and done by top filmmakers - I'm still inclined to say HBO. Although I have no idea why (freedom to curse? No commercials?).
  2. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I think it's a few things. HBO found one formula that works very well. And they have been smart enough not to screw with it. There is a consistency to the documentaries -- Ross Greenberg has been there for more than 20 years and all of those documentaries have his imprint on them. Most of them have that same format, and Liev Schreiber doing the voice over gives them a consistency. Even when they do a new topic or athlete profile, there is a nice familiarity to it that works well for me.
  3. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    HBO typically pays its interview subjects and pays well. Particularly on the boxing documentaries (which are VERY well done)... I find myself asking, "How'd they get all that great access?"

    Then I remind myself: With a checkbook.

    Whether there's anything wrong with that... Well, documentaries aren't necessarily straight up journalism... But it's just something to keep in mind.
  4. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    I love the 30 for 30 series, but I recently got HBO and am very much looking forward to watching some of its sports docs.
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Every once in awhile, ESPN does something great and the 30 for 30 series is probably the best thing ESPN has done since Sports Century, unless I'm forgetting something.
  6. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Black Magic and Greatest Game Ever Played were two good ones that came in between those series. Full disclosure - I know some folks who were involved with both those projects. But I also know some of the HBO people.

    I'd rather see a documentary that tells me something new, or shows me some unearthed footage, than see the Bird/Magic story told (albeit well) for the 50,000th time. I did not know Ricky Williams's dad was a convicted sex offender. I had never seen Brian Tribble interviewed about Len Bias, etc. etc.
  7. Bodie_Broadus

    Bodie_Broadus Active Member

    I like the 30 for 30 stuff.

    I think I may have seen one HBO doc, the one on Magic and Larry (I really don't care about boxing).
  8. lantaur

    lantaur Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I've ever seen a bad HBO sports doc, going as far back as the one on the Miracle on Ice, which was simply outstanding.

    Seems like there's a little war going on between HBO and ESPN (or Bill Simmons) as well:
  9. D-3 Fan

    D-3 Fan Active Member

    Will Bill Simmons ever shut up and stop putting himself in the story?

    I like HBO's docs and I have been surprised on how good 30 for 30 has been so far. Ragu echoed my sentiments with HBO: don't mess with a good thing. Which is something that ESPN can do by letting the filmmakers run with their projects and put together good stuff.

    I have no particular favorite, only that I appreciate and enjoy quality work about sports.
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