ESPN Films wrapped up the critically acclaimed “30 for 30” films with Thaddeus D. Matula’s Pony Exce$$, Saturday, Dec. 11, immediately following the Heisman Trophy presentation, earning a 1.8 rating, according to Nielsen. That represents an average of 1,843,000 million homes (2.517,000 viewers, P2+) to become ESPN’s most-watched documentary of all time.
Pony Exce$$ edged out Billy Corben’s The U, which earned a 1.8 rating (1,801,000 homes, 2.368,000 viewers) in December 2009, and Jon Hock’s The Best That Never Was, which earned a 1.8 rating (1,760,000 homes, 2,229,000 viewers) last month. Overall, the “30 for 30” slate of 30 films averaged a 1.0 rating (958,000 homes, 1,193,000 viewers). The series, created in celebration of ESPN’s 30th anniversary, not only highlighted some of the most memorable moments in sports history but examined the impact that they had on pop culture and society as a whole.
“Storytelling is at the heart of what ESPN does – whether on TV, online, radio or in print – in our features, game summaries, event productions or, of course, documentaries,” says John Skipper, executive vice president, content, ESPN. “The positive feedback from media and fans shows there is an audience for long-form, high-quality storytelling, and it belongs on ESPN.”
Connor Schell, executive producer, ESPN Films, adds, “We worked with an extraordinary group of directors for the ’30 for 30’ series. Due to the enormous creativity of the storytellers, the collection of films was as interesting in style as in subject matter. We intend to continue making quality, point-of-view films going forward.”
Highlights for the series include –
· Airing in March 2010 on NCAA men’s basketball’s “Selection Sunday,” Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks, directed by Peabody Award-winning director Dan Klores, posted a 1.5 rating, the fourth highest ever for an ESPN documentary and the highest-rated show ever in the time slot following the Bracketology program.
· The Two Escobars has played at the prestigious 2010 Tribeca, Cannes and Los Angeles Film Festivals, garnering critical acclaim. Its televised premiere June 21 was ESPN Deportes’ top-rated documentary ever with a 1.2 Hispanic household rating.
· “30 for 30” won the 2010 International Documentary Association’s “Distinguished Continuing Series” award.
Although major markets nationwide played a big role in the success of the series, it was the Southeast that was the biggest supporter, posting the highest average market rating per film. Birmingham, Charlotte and Louisville were the three top markets for the “30 for 30” series, averaging a 2.0, 1.6 and 1.5 respectively. Smaller markets that posted the highest rating for select films include Birmingham (3.6 for Jordan Rides the Bus), Austin (2.2 for Run Ricky Run) and Knoxville (2.0 for Tim Richmond: To the Limit).
On several occasions the city or location being depicted in the film was not the top-rated market for that film. Notably, The U earned a 5.6 rating in Birmingham while Miami came in sixth with a 3.3. Additionally, Straight Outta L.A. rated the highest in Miami with a 2.0 while Los Angeles came in seventh (0.8).