To say Serie A has no presence in North America would be a massive understatement. While the Barcelona Entertainment and Information Network (beIN Sports) ostensibly “shows” Italian football here in the states, their coverage is a complete sham, often relegating Serie A to the depths of their programming schedule. Roma and Juventus are playing live, you say? Hmm, but Barcelona has an over 40 intrasquad match with all benefits proceeding the Lionel Messi Beard Foundation, so you can see our conundrum.
Point being, Italian football, which was once the gold standard, has virtually no foothold in the American market. So rather than seeing Dybala, Icardi, Bonucci, De Rossi or Immobile strewn across the backs of America’s youth, our malls and elementary playgrounds are festooned with Messi and Ronaldo shirts. To some degree this is expected—those are the two biggest players and the two biggest clubs on earth—but surely there is a place for Serie A in America’s wide-open sports landscape, right?
So when news broke that Netflix was going to show a multi-part documentary about Juventus, my ears perked up. Yes, I loathe Juve as much as the rest of you, but I can’t lie, something about this documentary series has me excited.
| First Team: Juventus on @netflix from Friday 16th February. pic.twitter.com/VTlPwmKCAj— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) February 9, 2018
Setting aside my love for sports documentaries in general, this trailer still has me geeked. These filmmakers appeared to have had unlimited access—there are game day shots, practice shots and even one of Gonzalo Higuain stuffing his face—couple that with Netflix’s high production standards and Serie A (and unfortunately Juventus) may have a winner on their hands, but will it matter?
Check out this exchange I had on Twitter the other day:
Well, I suppose there's the angle that only fans of the league will seek it out, so you may have a point. But you never know how it might snowball, but a better international broadcast deal would obviously be the key to increasing exposure. I'll still check it out.— BrenCdT (@BrenCdT) February 7, 2018
Now, the very reason I (and perhaps some of you) are excited and/or intrigued by this is simply because we are already Serie A fans, and even though our team isn’t at the center of attention, it is attention and exposure for the league nonetheless. And the point I was trying to make in that tweet about the snowball effect is simply this; you have to start somewhere. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats.
Somewhere in that documentary is sure to be footage of a good old fashion Juve-Roma beatdown, and perhaps Roma’s sterling kits will catch someone’s eyes, or maybe some disaffected youth in a flyover state will see a bit of him/herself in Radja Nainggolan and do a bit of research into the club with the yellow and red kits.
Point being, you simply never know what may happen. If this documentary plants the seed of Serie A growth in a small fraction of American fans, there’s no telling how much it will germinate.