Netflix, SEC football: Three keys to surpass NFL’s ‘Quarterback’ success

Controversial take. I didn’t think the NFL’s “Quarterback” on Netflix following Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins, and Marcus Mariota was very good (minus the cool NFL Films behind-the-scene footage surrounding the actual game when Mahomes had his scary injury in the playoffs).

By all standards, I was an outlier with my criticism given the initial results. “Quarterback” was an instant hit debuting as a top five show among all titles when it dropped last summer, and it still has a “good” rating with 3.1x times the demand of an average TV series according to Parrot Analytics.

Yet “Quarterback” was faux genuine. It was overly sanitized to make the three NFL quarterbacks seem real. Whereas what made “Drive to Survive,” especially the early seasons, a smashing success were two main ingredients – authenticity and colorful characters.

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Thus, I’ve given away the first two keys to make the SEC college football Netflix show better than the NFL’s “Quarterback.”

No. 1 – Be genuine

This paragraph from Bleacher Report’s version of the reported SEC college football, Netflix deal, originally reported from The Athletic, already gives me pause.

“According to the report, teams will have the ability to either opt in or out of the project. Those who do opt in are expected to have at least some control over access and what is aired.”

Ugh. It sounds exactly like the NFL’s “Quarterback.” My only hope is that some programs, the head coaches especially, want their colorful personalities to shine. If you’re one of the lesser marquee programs not named Georgia, Alabama, or Texas, that’s a huge opportunity. Someone like the late, great Mike “The Pirate” Leach comes to mind. We want the SEC’s version of Guenther Steiner!

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No. 2 – Colorful characters

Obviously genuineness and color characters go hand-in-hand. The head coaches are only one part of it.

Next up are the players, and again, for those not looking to manicure a perfect image as a top NFL draft prospect, this is a huge opportunity for them to make significant financial gains with their NIL profile if they can become breakout Netflix stars.

Don’t forget peripheral characters as well like fans, assistant coaches, cheerleaders, etc., which were an essential part of making “Welcome to Wrexham” another pop culture sensation for FX/Hulu.

Whoever is the showrunner will have a limitless amount of amazing personalities to find throughout SEC country. Hopefully they’re able to showcase them. If so, it’ll be fantastic.

No. 3 – Access

One other note from The Athletic’s reporting also is worrisome. The behind-the-scenes access could resemble the level granted for “SEC Insider” on the SEC Network.

If that’s the case, then why do it? The success of a Netflix SEC college football show to appeal beyond diehard fans would be solely dependent on the colorful characters outside of the lines. That’s a lot to ask without the full cooperation of the programs.

I can see the hesitancy of the juggernaut programs. They have a lot to lose if they’re portrayed in a negative light. Georgia reportedly is interested but hasn’t committed. For those programs that want to get into that stratosphere with a lesser profile, it’s worth the risk. “Drive to Survive” has proven that out, especially in the United States. In the world of college football, the jury still is out on Deion Sanders at Colorado. 

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My gut tells me that it will be more in line with “Quarterback” than the early seasons of “Drive to Survive.”

But maybe that’s enough to make it a huge hit. Like I said, I’m a tough critic.

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