BOSTON -- The 2024 season will be one in which the Red Sox will allow viewers worldwide a rare chance to sneak behind the curtain and see what the grind of a Major League season is all about.
It was announced on Wednesday that Netflix, in conjunction with MLB Studios, will have unprecedented access to follow the '24 Red Sox from start to finish.
That access will turn into a docuseries that will debut in 2025.
This marks the first time Netflix has followed an MLB team over the course of a full season.
Netflix will have behind-the-scenes access to players, coaches and executives from Spring Training through the end of the '24 season.
The process started back in 2021, as more of a broad discussion between Netflix, MLB and the leaders of the Red Sox ownership group about an opportunity to grow the reach of baseball.
“It wasn't necessarily going to be about the Red Sox. It was just more of the importance of getting baseball into this medium, these sort of doc series and global platform opportunities,” said Red Sox chief marketing officer Adam Grossman.
So how did the Red Sox turn into the focus of the project?
“MLB took some time to concept,” said Grossman. “What would make the most sense from a baseball standpoint, from the industry standpoint? Is it leagues, is it players, multiple teams or specific teams? It could go so many different ways. And over the course of the year, I think what they landed on was that it would probably be best -- given the nature of the grind of a season -- to feature one team. Then the question was, what team would do it?”
After months of discussions, which included discussions with the front office, the players and the coaching staff, the Red Sox became willing participants.
“This is one of the largest marketing initiatives we have ever undertaken,” said Red Sox president/CEO Sam Kennedy. “When we formally began discussing this opportunity nearly 18 months ago, we stressed to our players that the decision to pursue this project would ultimately be up to them. I am proud of our players, [manager] Alex Cora and our baseball operations leadership for having the courage to embrace such a project and open our clubhouse and Fenway Park to a truly global audience.”
Cora expressed enthusiasm for the project and the way it can shed unique light on the players.
“We’re going to embrace this experience from the very first day of filming to the last,” said Cora. “This is an incredible opportunity for the entire Red Sox organization, but I’m most excited about what this means for our players. Netflix will be able to magnify their stories in a way Major League Baseball has never seen.”
Given the character development that the film crew envisions, it didn’t make sense to rush out the episodes -- hence, the planned release in '25.
“And that is an important piece, because the storylines and the editing process will be much more personal and human interest versus sort of the tick tock of the season,” said Grossman.
Player buy-in was vital to the Red Sox’s brass. Without it, the project wouldn’t have come to fruition.
“Sam had said this ultimately has to be embraced by the players,” said Grossman. “This is not going to be a top-down mandate at all. This needs to be embraced by the players. And they need to have full understanding and go in eyes wide open about what it is, what it’s not, what the process is and all that.”
Red Sox assistant general manager Raquel Ferreira was critical in communicating to the players what type of opportunity this could be.
“This is a unique opportunity the players didn’t want to pass up,” Red Sox shortstop Trevor Story said. “I’ve enjoyed the behind-the-scenes access in Netflix’s other sports documentaries, and now we get to give the fans an unparalleled look at the passion, sacrifice and hard work it takes to be a Major League Baseball player.”
“One other point: We are not getting paid for this, nor are the players,” said Grossman. “This is really about marketing and growing the game of baseball across the globe. So I think that's important for people to recognize as well.”
In addition to the project on the '24 team, Netflix and MLB announced Wednesday there will be a retrospective docuseries on the unforgettable 2004 Red Sox, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. That docuseries will debut “later in 2024,” according to the press release.
“Baseball is driven by the incredible stories of our athletes,” said Noah Garden, MLB’s Deputy Commissioner of business and media. “Teaming up with Netflix for these two exciting projects is a tremendous opportunity to not only bring our avid fans closer to the game they love, but also introduce new audiences to the undeniable emotion that baseball evokes.”
The two docuseries will give the Red Sox a significant amount of increased visibility, given that Netflix has more than 260 million paid memberships.