The NFL and HBO have reached an agreement that will keep Hard Knocks on the air every year. At a league owners meeting on Tuesday, the league passed a proposal to require teams to do the show if no volunteers step up that year. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted the relevant details:
Proposal to compel teams to do Hard Knocks passed (if no volunteers), source said. Wouldn't apply to teams with new coaches or in playoffs— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 8, 2013
NFL hopes to have Hard Knocks volunteers. If there are none, they've now guaranteed Hard Knocks every year.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 8, 2013
Hard Knocks debuted in 2001 and has run eight seasons since then, chronicling one team's entire training camp. It took a hiatus from 2003-06 and did not air in 2011 due to the NFL lockout. The teams featured on the show so far are the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.
The show is a consistent ratings hit for HBO due to its unprecedented access inside the NFL locker room, but teams have backed away from the show for that very reason. HBO almost didn't have a team to cover for the 2013 season due to multiple teams declining the invitation. The Bengals agreed to do it at the last minute, becoming only the second team to appear on the show twice.
With the new agreement in place, the NFL and HBO now ensured that they will have a team to cover every year for the foreseeable future, even if they have to twist someone's arm to do so.