Indianapolis Colts to Appear in First In-Season Edition of HBO’s “Hard Knocks”

The new format of the 18-time Emmy winner will premiere on November 17

Head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts on the sidelines
Head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts on the sidelines at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Justin Casterline/Getty

After the past couple of seasons of Hard Knocks have fallen on hard times in terms of drumming up interest due to a lack of intriguing storylines and charismatic characters, HBO is attempting to tackle that issue by changing the format of the behind-the-scenes NFL show.

Instead of embedding with a team during training camp and the preseason to produce five episodes documenting a franchise’s preparation for the regular season, Hard Knocks will pivot to in-season filming starting in November.

The first team NFL Films and HBO will feature utilizing the new format will be the Indianapolis Colts, who have battled COVID-19 issues so far this season and have reclamation project Carson Wentz starting at quarterback.

“The Emmy-winning weekly series will deliver its signature all access coverage in the first show of any kind to document an NFL franchise in-season and in real time, following the Colts as they navigate the challenges of an NFL season and battle for a playoff berth,” according to HBO.

NFL Films previously did in-season filming with NFL teams including the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers for the All or Nothing on Amazon Prime Video, but those episodes were not available until the following summer, long after the season that had been filmed was over and done with. For the upcoming season of Hard Knocks, episodes will air on Wednesdays and show the previous week’s action with the first one premiering on November 17.

“We could not be more thrilled to bring Hard Knocks and the remarkable behind-the-scenes access it provides for the entirety of an NFL season,” said NFL Films senior executive Ross Ketover. “Thanks to HBO, along with the incredible cooperation from the Colts, we are able to deliver a groundbreaking new edition of the series.”

An 18-time Emmy winner, Hard Knocks made its debut in the summer of 2001 and, at times, has been excellent. Perhaps the change in format will inject some life back into a show that, possibly because of the amount of access and interaction social media now provides (that wasn’t present when Hard Knocks debuted), has grown a bit stale. The Dallas Cowboys just completed their third season of being featured on the franchise.

The new in-season edition of Hard Knocks will be the first appearance for Indianapolis on the series. The Colts opened their season with a lopsided loss to the Seattle Seahawks. A playoff team last season, the Colts should be in the mix for the AFC South division title.

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