The Premier League has been approached over a potential new documentary series by the makers of Netflix’s hit Formula 1: Drive To Survive with the possibility of a similar project encompassing the 20 clubs.
The issue was raised during the extensive shareholders meeting on Wednesday at which clubs were updated on a range of governance issues and commercial possibilities including this latest proposal from the British production company Box To Box Films.
While the league executive said that there was much work to do in order to explore the parameters of any deal, they are likely to have a clearer idea by next month’s scheduled shareholders’ meeting. The Premier League’s global popularity has meant that it has had many proposals to collaborate on behind-the-scenes documentaries but that in this case it reached the shareholders’ agenda suggests that it is being taken seriously.
Drive To Survive has been through four seasons on Netflix and is credited with attracting a new generation of fans to the sport. While the Premier League enjoys the biggest international broadcast deals of any of its European rivals – overseas earnings make up the majority of its current £10.3 billion current rights three-year income – the pressure for growth means that it is always looking at new opportunities.
Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have all struck their own deals with Amazon Prime to take part in the All Or Nothing documentary series – more of a collaboration than a truly independent analysis of the life of a club. It would be inconceivable for the Premier League to grant free reign to a documentary maker to probe wherever they wanted – and without ultimate editorial control for the clubs.
It is likely that a Premier League documentary would also want some access to shareholders’ meetings themselves – the private gatherings of the 20 clubs to squabble and plot over the future of the English game and how the money is divided.
Another factor is the constant negotiation with each rights cycle about the access that big broadcast partners such as Sky Sports, BT Sport and the overseas media get as part of their deals in addition to the live coverage, known as the “Section K” part of any deal. Given that they are the financial driving force behind the league’s popularity there would need to be some consultation over a major documentary with new access to the clubs within the current three-year rights cycle.