SXSW ’14: ESPN opens up Exit 31 to expand storytelling

U.S. net ESPN is combining the resources of ESPN Films, Bill Simmons' Grantland and Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight under a new umbrella content unit called Exit 31. (Pictured: 30 for 30 Soccer Stories)
March 10, 2014

U.S. net ESPN is combining the resources of ESPN Films, Bill Simmons’ Grantland and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight under a new umbrella content unit called Exit 31, in an initiative aimed at experimenting with subjects, formats, editorial approaches and platforms to complement the net’s storytelling abilities.

Exit 31 - named for the exit that leads to ESPN’s Bristol headquarters – has a slate of initial projects that includes FiveThirtyEight Films, a collaboration between FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Films to create short- and long-form films; Grantland’s The Finish Line, an exclusive series on basketball player Steve Nash’s return to the Lakers; ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 Soccer Stories (pictured above) and ongoing 30 for 30 Shorts; the recently announced documentary series Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil, which follows the U.S. men’s soccer team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil; and a new Grantland video podcast network.

Marie Donoghue, ESPN Film’s senior VP of global strategy, business development and business affairs, will head Exit 31.

“Formally combining these teams will create a collaborative studio environment whose mission will be to take risks and experiment with editorial approach, visual presentation and programming across platforms,” said Donoghue in a statement.

“We hope to continue to bring a variety of creative people into ESPN from varied sources – including non-traditional sports media sources – to cross-pollinate within Exit 31 and across ESPN’s existing and award-winning content divisions.”



About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.