In 2016, the Rams moved west from St. Louis to their old home of Los Angeles, and NFL Films' cameras followed along to chronicle the change and their preseason preparation for Hard Knocks.
Those cameras and crew will return for an even greater endeavor in 2020. HBO Sports and NFL Films will follow not one, but two NFL franchises with Hard Knocks: Los Angeles, an unprecedented iteration of the beloved docuseries that will deliver unfiltered, all-access looks inside the training camps of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers.
The 18-time Sports Emmy Award-winning series will debut Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. ET exclusively on HBO.
The timing couldn't be better. After the Rams returned to Southern California in 2016, the Chargers moved north from San Diego to join the Rams in L.A., exercising a one-year option created by the Rams' move west and making the city a two-team market for the first time since 1994. Though the two teams spent 2017 through 2019 12 miles apart, they were destined to become neighbors in the same complex in Inglewood by 2020. With the upcoming opening of the $5 billion SoFi Stadium, that vision becomes reality, and NFL Films will be there to capture it all.
"The Hard Knocks franchise continues to excel as the preeminent sports reality series," HBO Sports EVP Peter Nelson said in a press release. "Our partnership with NFL Films, which dates back to 1977, consistently produces groundbreaking television programming. We are grateful to the Chargers and Rams organizations to be able to present the 2020 training camp experience."
Along with the announcement of the Rams' and Chargers' involvement, HBO Sports, NFL Media and NFL Films have reached an agreement on a multi-year extension of the Hard Knocks franchise.
"NFL Films cherishes the relationship we've had with HBO for over four decades, and specifically with the Hard Knocks franchise since 2001," NFL Films senior executive Ross Ketover said. "To be able to announce this extension as we embark on an unprecedented two team series this summer brings us incredible pride and only heightens our excitement for the return of football."
Led by youthful mastermind Sean McVay, the Rams are just a little over a year removed from a Super Bowl appearance and feature franchise quarterback Jared Goff and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. The Chargers, meanwhile, are taking their first steps into a post-Philip Rivers world with veteran Tyrod Taylor and future franchise quarterback Justin Herbert, who will likely get his fair share of screen time in the series.
Both re-branded in the offseason, debuting new logos and uniforms ahead of their move into SoFi Stadium.
"We are looking forward to having Hard Knocks in our camp this year," said McVay. "Hard Knocks always offers a rare opportunity for our fans to see our players' hard work to prepare for the season, as well as gives them a peek behind the curtain to observe these guys off the field, too. This year will be special because the show will also get an unprecedented look at SoFi Stadium, Stan Kroenke's vision for professional football in L.A."
Challenges associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are sure to be covered in the series, which should be expected to appease the appetite of football-hungry fans ready for a return to the game in the fall after a trying spring and summer.
"Having been part of Hard Knocks before when I was with the New York Jets, my biggest takeaway from that whole experience was that you get out of it what you put into it," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said in the release. "There's a reason that season was probably the most popular Hard Knocks ever. If you're going to do a show, do it right. You can't fake it. We didn't have a problem providing access because we built a relationship with the crew. There was a mutual trust that exists to this day with those people, and many of them will actually be working on this year's show. Broadcasting your internal business all over the world isn't something you regularly want to do, but in a year with as many challenges as this one has had, I'm glad we can be part of bringing football back to the fans this summer."