30 for 30
The 30 for 30 title card is styled like an old ticket stub
Logo for 30 for 30 Volume I films
GenreSports documentary
Created by
Directed byvarious
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes157
Executive producerMarsha Cooke
Production companyESPN Films
Original release
ReleaseOctober 6, 2009 (2009-10-06) –
present (present)

30 for 30 is the title for a series of documentary films airing on ESPN, its sister networks, and online highlighting interesting people and events in sports history. This includes four "volumes" of 30 episodes each, a 13-episode series under the ESPN Films Presents title in 2011–2012, and a series of 30 for 30 Shorts shown through the ESPN.com website. The series has also expanded to include Soccer Stories, which aired in advance of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and audio podcasts.


The idea for the series began in 2007 from ESPN.com columnist and Grantland.com founder Bill Simmons and ESPN's Connor Schell.[1] The title, 30 for 30, derived from the series's genesis as 30 films in celebration of ESPN's 30th anniversary in 2009, with an exploration of the biggest stories from ESPN's first 30 years on-air, through a series of 30 one-hour films by 30 filmmakers.[2][3]

Volume I premiered in October 2009 and ran to December 2010, chronicling 30 stories from the "ESPN era", beginning with the network's founding in 1979. Each film in Volume I details a striking sports issue or event that occurred during those three decades, including what Simmons describes as "stories that resonated at the time [they occurred] but were eventually forgotten for whatever reason."[1] Subsequent films, including Volume II and online-only shorts, expanded the series beyond the "ESPN era".

In September 2014, Schell said, "Even though we have been at this for five years now, there is no shortage of incredible moments from the world of sports, so that enables us to continue making 30 for 30 films we're proud of."[4] In 2010, John Dahl, Connor Schell and Simmons served as 30 for 30's executive producers.[5][6][7] In April 2018, it was announced that the entire archive of 30 for 30 films and shorts would be available on ESPN+, ESPN's direct-to-consumer online platform, once the service launched on April 12, 2018.[8]

Series overview

Main article: List of 30 for 30 films

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
Volume I30October 6, 2009 (2009-10-06)December 11, 2010 (2010-12-11)
ESPN Films Presents14March 13, 2011 (2011-03-13)February 12, 2015 (2015-02-12)
ShortsTBAMay 15, 2012 (2012-05-15)TBA
Volume II30October 2, 2012 (2012-10-02)July 30, 2015 (2015-07-30)
Soccer Stories8April 15, 2014 (2014-04-15)July 1, 2014 (2014-07-01)
Volume III30October 13, 2015 (2015-10-13)July 2, 2019 (2019-07-02)
Volume IV30September 10, 2019 (2019-09-10)TBA


Critical response

The A.V. Club review for the eighth entry, Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks, called it "the most hotly anticipated [of the first eight]" and stated that "it more than lived up to the hype."[9] Special praise was given to Brett Morgen's collage documentary June 17th, 1994 as a standout episode.[10][11] The A.V. Club has given positive and negative reviews for different episodes in the series, with notable critical reviews of the three Volume I episodes that had involvement by the media production arms of Major League Baseball (Four Days in October), the NBA (Once Brothers) and NASCAR (Tim Richmond: To the Limit).[12][13][14]


Connor Schell, Bill Simmons and John Dahl with award for 30 for 30 at the 70th Annual Peabody Awards

The series had a slow beginning. The first film, Peter Berg's Kings Ransom, a chronicle of Wayne Gretzky's trade from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings, premiered on October 6, 2009, to poor ratings.[15][16] Kings Ransom drew a 0.5 national rating and a total viewership of 645,000.[15][16] As awareness and critical acclaim grew, the viewing audience also grew. By the seventh episode, The U, the audience had grown to a 1.8 rating and well over 2 million viewers.[17][18]



Cadillac and Levi's are the presenting sponsors of the series. The Cadillac name appears on the 30 for 30 logo. The Levi's "go forth" slogan appears on the bottom corner of the screen during the directors interstitial comments, which appear for 45 seconds at the beginning of each film and 30 seconds at the end. Commercials for both companies were shown during every intermission during the original air dates, with Levi's guaranteed a 60-second commercial slot at the beginning of the third act.

Cadillac replaced Honda as a primary sponsor. During its time as a contributor, Honda aired parts of its "Dream the Impossible" documentary series in the first commercial break. During broadcasts in the UK on BT Sport, these sponsorship logos are blurred out due to compliance regulations.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Bill Simmons on 30 for 30". ESPN. Archived from the original on September 8, 2009. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
  2. ^ Craggs, Tommy (September 29, 2009). "Donald Trump Goes All Bitchcakes On A "Third-Rate" ESPN Filmmaker". Deadspin.com. Gawker Media. Retrieved September 26, 2016. For its 30th birthday, ESPN commissioned a series of documentaries, called 30 for 30.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Bruce (July 29, 2009). "30 stories for 30 years of ESPN". USAToday.com. USA Today. Retrieved September 26, 2016. To celebrate its 30th birthday, the network is launching 30 for 30, a series of 30 one-hour films by 30 filmmakers covering the biggest sports stories over the network's first 30 years.
  4. ^ Cingari, Jennifer (September 15, 2014). "Fall Slate Announced for ESPN Films' 30 for 30 as Fifth Anniversary of Series Approaches". ESPN MediaZone. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  5. ^ "John Dahl". ESPN MediaZone. Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  6. ^ "Connor Schell". ESPN MediaZone. Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  7. ^ "Bill Simmons Biography". TVGuide.com. August 13, 2010. Archived from the original on September 29, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
  8. ^ Christie, Jennifer Cingari (April 3, 2018). "ESPN+ to Launch with Exclusive 30 for 30 Documentary "The Last Days of Knight" and Full 30 for 30 Library". ESPN MediaZone. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  9. ^ Tobias, Scott (March 15, 2010). "30 For 30 – "Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks"". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on May 15, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2010.
  10. ^ The 30 Best '30 for 30' Films: The Fab Five, Reggie and 'The U' — Rolling Stone
  11. ^ 30 For 30: "June 17, 1994"-A.V. Club
  12. ^ Tobias, Scott (October 5, 2010). "30 for 30 – "Four Days in October"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  13. ^ Tobias, Scott (October 12, 2010). "30 for 30 – "Once Brothers"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  14. ^ Tobias, Scott (October 19, 2010). "30 for 30 – "Tim Richmond: To The Limit"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  15. ^ a b Best, Neil (October 9, 2009). "Watchdog – Giants' TV ratings jump is third best in NFL to this point". Newsday. Archived from the original on October 17, 2009. Retrieved October 12, 2009.
  16. ^ a b "SportsBusiness Daily Morning Buzz – October 8, 2009". SportsBusiness Daily. October 8, 2009. Archived from the original on September 27, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2009.
  17. ^ Jackson, Barry (March 19, 2010). ""The U" sequel on UM rebirth". The Miami Herald. Archived from the original on March 20, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  18. ^ a b Seidman, Robert (December 15, 2010). "Critically Acclaimed '30 for 30' Wraps up with Pony Exce$$ – ESPN's Most-Watched Documentary". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  19. ^ 70th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2011.
  20. ^ Cingari, Jessica (August 18, 2014). "ESPN Films' 30 for 30 Shorts Celebrates First Primetime Emmy Win". ESPN MediaZone. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  21. ^ Oscar Winners 2017, February 2017.
  22. ^ "O.J.: Made in America" wins Best Documentary Feature-Oscars on YouTube
  23. ^ O.J.: Made in America – Caroline Waterlow & Ezra Edelman – 2016 Peabody Award Acceptance on Peabody Awards' official Vimeo channel
  24. ^ 13th, O.J.: Made In America top this year’s Peabody documentary winners|AV Club
  25. ^ Spirit Awards: 'O.J.: Made in America' Wins Best Documentary|Hollywood Reporter
  26. ^ "Discover the Winners of Adweek's 2019 Podcast of the Year Awards". December 9, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2022.
  27. ^ Verhoeven, Beatrice (July 7, 2022). "'This Is Us,' 'Succession,' 'Severance' Lead 2022 HCA TV Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  28. ^ Tinoco, Armando (November 14, 2022). "Critics Choice Documentary Awards: Amazon's 'Good Night Oppy' Tops Winners List". Deadline. Retrieved March 13, 2023.