Michigan’s deal with Amazon for a behind the scenes documentary series is pretty sweet for Michigan.
The school will receive $2.25 million for participating in the series, which is slated to be in the “non-scripted, documentary-style” of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” except for one thing. Michigan, per a contract obtained by the Detroit Free Press, can request edits if it sees fit.
Michigan, meanwhile, has the right to “review” and “provide its comments” on “the second rough cut” of each episode. The university has the right to request footage edits based on factual errors, student privacy policies, “any depiction that would constitute an actionable defamation or false light depiction of the University, the Team or any University Individual,” any unknown legal violations, confidential team information regarding football strategies, plays, personnel evaluations and recruitment information.
Michigan also has the right to “review and comment” on all marketing materials that use Michigan’s intellectual property. In addition, Michigan has the right to approve “any in-show sponsorship or advertising integrations” within the program. Amazon and the producers also are required to adhere to all NCAA rules and bylaws during the production of the series.
The show, produced in conjunction with the Big Ten Network, is being billed as a behind the scenes showcase of the Michigan program, much like “Hard Knocks,” Netflix’s “Last Chance U,” and Showtime’s “A Season With…” If you’ve seen any of those shows, they can be a pretty raw look at the ins and outs of a football program.
For example, here’s a clip from “A Season With Florida State” after FSU lost on a last-second field goal to North Carolina.
Hopefully we can see the same kind of material from Michigan and Jim Harbaugh, but the language in the Michigan contract makes it seem like the show will be filtered through a maize and blue lense. That doesn’t mean it won’t be engaging and fun to watch, but it probably won’t be as compelling and honest as a show like Last Chance U.
Amazon, who already has its production crew on campus shooting “three to four” days per week, did a terrific job with a similar show documenting the Arizona Cardinals called “All Or Nothing,” so maybe I’ll be proven wrong. Per the Free Press, Michigan has agreed to provide “reasonable access,” including “Michigan Stadium, team offices and facilities, locker rooms, practice sessions, team meetings and games.”
Oh, and players had to sign release forms to appear in the show. No, they won’t be getting a cut of the school’s profits from participating.
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