Doc Series ‘The Long Game: Bigger Than Basketball’ About Makur Maker Debuting on Apple TV+ April 22

The five-part documentary series “The Long Game: Bigger Than Basketball,” chronicling the coming-of-age story of basketball phenom Makur Maker, will make its global debut April 22 on Apple TV+.

Seth Gordon (“Undefeated,” The King of Kong, “For All Mankind”) directs and executive produces the series, which follows Maker, the NBA hopeful who grabbed global headlines with his groundbreaking decision to forgo the NBA and play for Howard University, making him the highest-ranked high school player in the modern recruiting era to commit to a historically black university (HBCU). The docuseries is an intimate look at Maker’s life as a student-athlete with a dream of making it to the NBA, while unexpected physical challenges and a global pandemic threaten his college career.

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Off the courts, “The Long Game: Bigger Than Basketball” explores how Maker’s journey from fleeing war-torn South Sudan as a child and his tight-knit support system led him to go to an HBCU, and in turn, allowed him to make an impactful statement in the wake of America’s cultural response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Roku Scored Big at Final Four March Madness

As a leading gateway linking consumers with streaming video on the television, Roku April 7 disclosed final data from the just-concluded NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament that saw TV streaming reach increase by 86.6% and hours watched increase by 75.4% compared with 2019.

By comparison, nearly 60% of 2019 traditional linear TV tournament viewers on Roku did not return to traditional TV to watch in 2021. The tournament is the latest example of consumers opting to view live sports via streaming after a pandemic induced pause.

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Roku tracked domestic households using a branded Internet-connected television that streamed channels carrying tournament games during time of gameplay. The reach of national semifinal viewing of UCLA vs. Gonzaga and Baylor vs. Houston via TV streaming skyrocketed 86.2% since 2019, while hours viewing increased by 86.1%. Streaming households also saw younger viewers as 80.4% of TV streaming was by people between the ages of 18 and 49.

“Nearly six out of 10 traditional linear-TV viewers did not return to watch this year’s [March Madness] on traditional TV. This is the latest example of the transformation shift occurring in TV viewing behavior,” Kristina Shepard, national brand team lead at Roku, said in a statement. “What we’re seeing is reflective of a change taking place across all the major sports as they returned from a pandemic induced pause. Marketers looking to continue reaching mass audiences through live sports must shift their focus towards TV streaming.”

Indeed, through the Final Four (April 3), traditional linear-TV viewers over the age of 18 declined about 23%, while 25% of all traditional linear-TV viewers of the tournament in 2019 streamed games in 2021 on Roku devices.

Not surprisingly, the higher the seed of the team in a school’s television market, the higher the percentage of households that tuned in.

Spokane, Wash., home to Gonzaga, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, saw 46.6% of households stream via Roku connected device. Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas (home to Baylor, the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament) saw 26.5%; followed by University of Houston (a regional two-seed) at 22.9%; while Los Angeles (UCLA, an 11-seed) tracked 19.5%.

The average Spokane household watched 13 hours through the Final Four, an increase of 3.25 hours per household in 2019. Los Angeles households watched an average of 7.2 hours, up 1.8 hours per household from 2019.

The average Spokane household watched 54 more minutes of the UCLA/Gonzaga game vs the average Los Angeles household (in spite of a very close game that ended with a three-point shot in overtime). Los Angeles viewers tuned out more than their Spokane rivals after the ending: 18.4% of Los Angeles households that watched the game tuned out five minutes after Gonzaga’s game-winning shot; 7.4% of Spokane households tuned out during the same period. Finally, 44.7% of Spokane households tuned out when all coverage ended vs. 21.6% of LA households.


Sports Doc ‘Eddie’ Hitting Digital March 9 From Lionsgate

Eddie, the story of legendary basketball coach Eddie Sutton, arrives on digital March 9 from Lionsgate.

The documentary follows the life and legacy of famed basketball coach Eddie Sutton, who coached across the universities of Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State, becoming one of the winningest coaches in sports history.

The film features interviews from notable names in basketball and pop culture, including former President of the United States Bill Clinton, former NBA basketball player Rex Chapman, owner of the Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones, University of Kansas head coach and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Bill Self, ESPN sportscaster and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Dick Vitale, and basketball analyst and radio host Doug Gottlieb.

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Rooted in basketball, but exploring issues of substance abuse, father-son relationships and perseverance, the documentary follows the famed career of 800-win basketball coach Sutton. It revisits not only conference championships and numerous trips to the Final Four, but also the pains of addiction and the devastating 2001 Oklahoma State basketball team plane crash. The film ponders the conflicting attributes of a man with flaws shared by many and achievements matched by few.

Early ‘Madden 20’ Football Release Helps Jumpstart July Video Game Sales

The early release of Electronic Arts Sports’ annual NFL video game, Madden 20, helped boost July video game sales from the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Total sales topped $762 million from $759 million last year. Software sales skyrocketed 34% to $340 million from $253.7 million — largely due to football.

Hardware sales continue to suffer as consumers await pending new edition consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Console revenue fell 22% to $169 million from $216.6 million. Accessories fell 12% to $254 million from $288.6 million.

Through July, game revenue is down 4% at $6.4 billion from $6.6 billion last year.

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The annual football video game featuring former NFL coach John Madden was released in July instead of August in part to its inclusion of select college teams.

NCAA-sanctioned games have been shelved in recent years following litigation from some players regarding lack of compensation for their likeness or name featured in games and marketing.

The NCAA reached a $20 million settlement in 2014 with plaintiffs, who included lead plaintiff and former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. It was also the last licensed year for college-themed sports video with NCAA 14.

Madden 20 features a new segment, “Face of the Franchise: QB1,” showcasing elite quarterbacks beginning with their collegiate careers.

EA reached license agreements with 10 colleges: Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Miami, LSU, Oregon, University of Southern California, Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.