ESPN unveils multi-part Tom Brady docuseries

Following the historic success of The Last Dance, ESPN has announced a new nine-part documentary series about legendary New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, which will be released in 2021.

The officially titled The Man in the Arena: Tom Brady will focus on Brady’s run to nine Super Bowls, including six victories and three defeats. The series will be produced by ESPN, Brady’s 199 Productions, and filmmaker Gotham Chopra’s Religion of Sports.

The multi-part series will be released while Brady is still competing in the National Football League. The 42-year-old recently left the Patriots after 20 years to play for Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a two-year deal, in turn driving big sales gains for that franchise.

“I’m excited to have my company 199 Productions be in business with ESPN and Disney along with our Religion of Sports partners to launch this new series that gives an inside look into the championship moments I’ve been blessed to experience,” Brady said.

“Through the series, we’re defining the key moments and challenges that were seemingly insurmountable, but through hard work and perseverance, became career-defining triumphs, in both victory and defeat This compelling and powerful show will entertain, inspire and have you on the edge of your seat. We can’t wait to share it with the world,” he said.

As Brady is now routinely in the conversation as the greatest NFL player of all time, the documentary project carries a thematic similarity to The Last Dance, which focused on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan, widely considered the greatest player ever in the National Basketball Association.

“Nine Super Bowl appearances over the course of 20 years is an achievement on an unmatched level,” said Connor Schell, ESPN’s executive vice president of content. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Tom Brady as he reflects on each of those nine, season-long journeys and the pivotal moments that defined them. Gotham Chopra is a highly skilled filmmaker who I am confident will bring to life this story of an icon in a new and revealing way.”

ESPN’s latest multi-part documentary series follows the huge success of the Michael Jordan-based The Last Dance, which averaged 5.6 million same-day viewers over its 10 episodes, and a total average audience of 12.9 million viewers through time-shifted and on-demand viewing, as of May 20, with all the totals boosted in part by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and current paucity of live competition.

Like the Jordan-produced The Last Dance, The Man in the Arena: Tom Brady will also be produced by Brady, which may raise some questions about how objective the project is.

Meanwhile, the Peyton Manning-fronted digital NFL-focused series Peyton’s Places on ESPN’s direct-to-consumer platform ESPN+ has been given a second season. ESPN has also accelerated timetables for several other documentary projects.