UPDATED, September 8: NFL Media said today that Season 1 of its new docuseries will be titled Football Town: Barrow, Alaska. Watch the trailer above.
PREVIOUSLY, August 31: As Los Angeles begins another football season without a pro team — sorry, L.A. Kiss — the NFL Network is continuing its push into original longform programming. And that doesn’t mean four-hour games. The NFL and its cable network today announced a new docuseries to go with its returning shows A Football Life and Undrafted, the latter of which will make its broadcast network debut on CBS this season.
Premiering on September 17, the new series will focus on small towns and cities where football is part of the community’s lifeblood. The first eight-episode season goes north to Alaska to follow the Barrow High School Whalers. Playing in the northernmost point in the U.S., with its nearest opponent 500 miles away, the team from the Native American community of 4,000 people has its sights trained on its first state championship. The program was pitched by producer Leftfield Pictures — the company that brought you Pawn Stars and Alone — with the working title Northern Lights, but NFL Media wanted to give it a title that could be used for a potential long-term series about other football-centric towns. The formal title will be unveiled soon.
The league also said today that Season 2 of the docuseries Undrafted will premiere September 16 on CBS before settling in to its regular slot on NFL Network the next night. As part of last year’s Thursday Night Football deal, NFL Network programming gets an hour of time on CBS each season, and the league is using it to launch the first two episodes of its look at undrafted players chasing their NFL dreams. (Last year it was the documentary Under The Lights, about the NFL’s expansion into primetime.) Among those profiled this season on the eight-episode Undrafted, which averaged 1.2 million viewers across six episodes last year, is former USC wide receiver George Farmer. The series is produced by NFL Network in association with Mandalay Sports Media, DG West and Indigenous Films
Season 5 of A Football Life kicks off September 18 on NFL Network with a look at Christian Okoye, “The Nigerian Nightmare” out of Azusa Pacific University who punished would-be tacklers like they stole his girlfriend. Other players getting their Football Life in the spotlight this season include Terrell Owens, Mike Singletary and newly minted Hall of Famers Jerome Bettis and Charles Haley.
NFL Network also will unveil the documentary Do Your Job: Bill Belichick And The 2014 New England Patriots. The hourlong docu about the Super Bowl champion team, its future Hall of Fame coach and, hopefully, the Deflategate scandal premieres September 9 — the day before the Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2015 regular-season opener.