ESPN Orders NBA-Rookie Documentary Series for New Streaming Service (EXCLUSIVE)

NBA Draft

ESPN is filling the content pipeline for its new subscription streaming service.

The sports media giant has ordered an untitled documentary series that will follow select members of the NBA’s 2017-18 rookie class as they begin their professional-basketball journeys. Over eight episodes the players will be followed from their preparation for draft night through Summer League competition, training camp, and the regular season. The series is produced for ESPN by Winik Media and 441 productions, and will be exclusive to streaming service ESPN Plus.

“It will be really compelling, access-based programming, bringing fans closer to their favorite athletes, telling the story of the journey of adjusting to life in the NBA on the court and off the court,” said Connor Schell, executive vice president of content for ESPN. “I love being able to do storytelling like that and have it be at people’s fingertips.”

The series is the first for ESPN Plus to get an official greenlight publicly from the sports-media giant, though several more are in the works. Kobe Bryant last week in an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” discussed his new series, “Detail,” which will also be an ESPN Plus exclusive.

ESPN Plus is set to launch this spring with a subscription price of $4.99 per month. The new platform is seen as a potential means of bringing some of the linear subscribers that ESPN has shed in recent years back into the company’s ecosystem through a mix of live events, original programming, and library content.

Details regarding programming for the new service have thus far been scant. ESPN has confirmed that that Plus will be the exclusive streaming home for all the films in its award-winning “30 for 30” documentary series, most of which have been unavailable to streaming viewers. Earlier this month, ESPN announced a new rights deal with the Sun Belt conference that will make hundreds of college sporting events available exclusively on the service.

“It’s going to give fans a deeper experience,” Schell said of Plus. “It gives us an opportunity to do some different original programming.”