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Has the long running HBO series Hard Knocks finally run its course?
This season has certainly been a struggle. The first two episodes featuring the Dallas Cowboys just hasn’t drawn the audience that the show has in the past. Sports Business Journal’s Austin Karp wrote Monday that the numbers for 2021 Hard Knocks are down a whopping 19 percent, averaging 295,000 viewers in the first two episodes.
An argument can be made that the series, which debuted in 2001, simply is no longer engaging enough for fans who have plenty of other NFL “behind the scenes” to choose from.
It’s not all negative news for the Hard Knocks brand though. Despite the dropping numbers, they are still up 13 percent from last season when the league tried to go with two teams for the show – the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams – instead of one.
In 2019, HBO went with Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders, and the numbers were excellent. That season focused on some nutty wide receiver named Antonio Brown who burned his feet that offseason in a cryotherapy session. The first two shows averaged 719,000 viewers.
It seemed like Brown was the emphasis of the entire show, and here we are just a few offseasons later, and no player really has engaged fans in the same way.
Mind you, the Cowboys may be wearing on viewers as well. This season is the third time they have been highlighted in the show. They were also featured back in 2002 and 2008.
While the Cowboys might be a favorite of HBO, fans are turning their back on the show. Eventually, the cable network will have to take notice.