HBO Sports, NFL Films to Partner with Atlanta Falcons on Latest Hard Knocks
HBO Sports, NFL Films and the Atlanta Falcons team up for an all-access look at what it takes to make it in the National Football League when HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE ATLANTA FALCONS debuts in August. The first sports-based reality series – and one of the fastest-turnaround programs on TV – kicks off its five-episode ninth season Tuesday, August 5 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
Other hour-long episodes debut subsequent Tuesdays at the same time, with an encore play Wednesday at 11:00 p.m., culminating in the Sept. 2 season finale.
“We are thrilled that the ninth edition of the HARD KNOCKS series will spotlight the Atlanta Falcons,” says Ken Hershman, president, HBO Sports. “It’s exciting to feature a team, a franchise and a city for the first time on HARD KNOCKS. We are grateful to Coach Mike Smith and the entire organization for agreeing to participate and look forward to what we expect to be one of the most exciting seasons in HARD KNOCKS history. The series has become one of the few summertime programs that is truly appointment TV and we can’t wait for the premiere on August 5th.”
“We’re excited to work with the Atlanta Falcons and HBO Sports on HARD KNOCKS,” says Howard Katz, COO of NFL Films and NFL Senior Vice President of Broadcasting. “We want to thank Arthur Blank, Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith and the entire Falcons’ organization for the trust they have in NFL FILMS by allowing us unprecedented access into their training camp. The Falcons present numerous storylines with a veteran coaching staff, star players and newcomers all coming together to attempt to rise up back to the top of the NFC.”
The cinema verité series will focus on the daily lives and routines of players and coachesas the Atlanta Falcons, who play in the talent-rich NFC South, conduct the franchise’s 49th training camp and prepare for the 2014 NFL season. HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE ATLANTA FALCONS will chronicle seventh-year head coach Mike Smith and an intriguing mix of high-profile veterans, emerging stars, free agents and rookie hopefuls throughout training camp and the four-game preseason schedule. Each week, players will experience drills, instruction, meetings and fun, while striving to prove they have what it takes to make the team and leave their mark on the NFL. The Falcons have earned a postseason playoff berth in four of the six years that Smith has been at the helm.
“We are excited about the opportunity to give our fans a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to prepare an NFL team for the rigors of a 16-game regular season and beyond,” said Falcons Owner & Chairman Arthur M. Blank. “This marks the first time that our franchise will be featured on HARD KNOCKS and we look forward to showcasing our great players and coaches to football fans all across America.”
A 30-person NFL Films crew will be at the Falcons’ training camp at team headquarters in Flowery Branch, GA, shooting more than 1,500 hours of footage over the course of the series. Camera and sound crews will have unencumbered access to the players’ and coaches’ meeting rooms, training rooms, living quarters and practice fields.
“We are looking forward to connecting with our fans across the country as the program chronicles our 2014 training camp,” said Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith. “The series will give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the competition between players as we build our roster and prepare for the season. We are looking forward to the start of camp in late July.”
Two summers ago HARD KNOCKS moved its premiere night to Tuesday and the results have been a resounding success. The five-part series on the playoff-bound Cincinnati Bengals last August averaged 3.6 million viewers per episode. No other sports reality series can match the critical acclaim, awards and audience numbers posted by the HARD KNOCKS franchise.
HARD KNOCKS launched with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, followed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2002. The series resumed in 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs, winning a Sports Emmy. In 2008, the series returned to the Dallas Cowboys, receiving a second Sports Emmy for production excellence. In 2009, HARD KNOCKS spotlighted the Cincinnati Bengals and captured two more Sports Emmy Awards, for Outstanding Edited Series/Anthology and Outstanding Post-Produced Audio/Sound. In 2010, the New York Jets were featured and the series captured three Sports Emmys, including Outstanding Edited Series/Anthology. The summer of 2012 spotlighted the Miami Dolphins, earning the franchise an eighth Sports Emmy, in the category of Outstanding Post-Produced Audio/Sound. The Bengals were featured again in 2013 and the series captured three more Sports Emmys, bringing to 11 the number of trophies awarded to the franchise for production excellence. Last summer’s spotlight on the Bengals was recognized with the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Editing, Outstanding Music Composition/Direction/Lyrics and Outstanding Post Produced Audio/Sound.
Each of the last four teams featured on HARD KNOCKS has improved its won-loss record in the regular season that immediately follows the training camp presentation.
Time Magazine called the show “riveting,” while NFL.com hailed the series as “undoubtedly the greatest football program in the history of the television medium.” Business Week observed, “As a workplace drama, it ranks among the best on television,” and New York’sDaily News termed it “the gold standard of sports reality programming.” ESPNW wrote: “The return of the NFL season also means the return of one of the best shows on television, ‘Hard Knocks.’ This rare look at how any given moment can be the end of a season or even a career.” Grantland.com observed, “Hard Knocks is when it really feels like we’re getting football back in our lives.”