HBO Sports, NFL Films and the Cincinnati Bengals will team up for an all-access look at what it takes to make it in the National Football League when Hard Knocks: Training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals debuts in August.
The first sports-based reality series -- and one of the fastest-turnaround reality series -- kicks off its fifth season Wednesday, Aug. 12 (10 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO and presented in HD. New hour-long episodes air subsequent Wednesdays at the same time, culminating in the Sept. 9 season finale, with regular encore plays on Thursdays.
"We are delighted that Hard Knocks will be returning this summer and placing the spotlight on head coach Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals," says Ross Greenburg, president, HBO Sports. "There will be plenty on the line during training camp for veterans, free agents and rookies alike, and we are eager to chronicle all the passion, heartache and achievement."
"This is a fascinating team," says NFL Films president Steve Sabol. "They've got a lot to prove to themselves and to the fans. As Coach Lewis has said, 'This is a team with a chip on their shoulder.' Training camp is a laboratory of human emotions and the Bengals have a compelling mix of personalities that should make for dramatic television."
The five-episode cinema verité series will focus on the daily lives and routines of players and coaches as the Cincinnati Bengals, who compete in the AFC's ultra-competitive North division (which sent two teams to the playoffs last January), prepare for the 2009 NFL season. Hard Knocks: Training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals will chronicle seventh-year head coach Marvin Lewis and an intriguing mix of high-profile veterans, free agents and rookie hopefuls throughout training camp and the preseason. Each week, players will experience drills, meetings and fun, while struggling to prove they have what it takes to make the team and make their mark in the NFL.
"Hard Knocks will give Bengals fans a tremendous opportunity for an inside look at their team," says Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "And for NFL fans across the country, it will provide another expertly produced program on how an NFL team operates behind the scenes. As for our players and coaches, the presence of HBO and NFL Films on a daily basis during the preseason will bring a heightened sense of excitement and intensity to the jobs we are all doing to get ready for a great year."
A 24-person NFL Films crew will live at the Bengals' training camp at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky., shooting more than 1,000 hours of video over the course of the series. Camera and sound crews will be given unencumbered access to the players' and coaches' meeting rooms, training rooms, dormitories and practice fields.
Hard Knocks launched with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, followed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2002. The series resumed in 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs and the 2008 edition, which received a Sports Emmy® Award for Outstanding Post Produced Audio/Sound, featured the Cowboys for the second time.
GQ magazine wrote last summer that Hard Knocks was reason No. 18 of the 73 reasons why "we're living in a new golden age of football" and that "Hard Knocks might be the second-best thing on television."