Disney quietly revealed today that a brand new ESPN docuseries, 37 Words, will be coming to Disney+ the same days new episodes air on TV. This is the latest in a 6-month trend of bringing ESPN content to Disney+, sparking many desires for a future where an ESPN+ add-on is available for an additional cost or the two services fully merge. This 4-part series will chronicle the evolution of women’s sports after the 1972 passing of the Title IX law.
Episodes 1 and 2 premiere on Disney+ June 21.
Episodes 3 and 4 premiere on Disney+ June 28.
These episodes will stream on Tuesday instead of the usual Wednesday / Friday schedule. The docuseries is airing on ESPN as part of Disney’s “Fifty/50” Initiative Celebrating Fifty Years of Title IX. In addition to this series, there will be a new 30 for 30 docuseries, a series of shorts, and more. The full lineup is below, although as of now, only the Title IX series is confirmed to stream on Disney+. We expect the others will follow. What remains unknown is what time they will arrive. If they arrive at the usual time, they would actually stream prior to airing on television.
- “37 Words” Directed by Dawn Porter & Nicole Newnham. From ESPN Films, Industrial Media, and Trilogy Films, “37 Words” tells the inspiring story of Title IX – the hard-fought battle to push for equal rights in education and athletics; the decades-spanning effort to nullify its impact; and the rippling impacts of the landmark civil rights law that continue to resonate today. Helmed by acclaimed directors Dawn Porter and Nicole Newnham, the four-part series charts the spectacular transformation that 37 words have inspired in American culture and the lives of women, as well as the many ways in which the spirit of this bold law has yet to be fully realized. “37 Words” will premiere June 21 (Parts 1 & 2) and June 28th (Parts 3 & 4) at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
- 30 for 30: “Dream On” Directed by Kristen Lappas. A three-part documentary telling the story of how the dominating run to a gold medal by the 1996 United States women’s Olympic team cemented the birth of the WNBA, and inspired generations of stars to follow. The film chronicles the team’s formation; its worldwide tour that preceded the Olympics; its tremendous performance at the Atlanta Games; and its impact that continues to resonate more than a quarter century later. “Dream On” will premiere June 15 at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
- W. Studios Fifty/50 Shorts Presented by Google. Five W. Studios short films presented by Google, meeting at the intersection of women, sports, culture and the fight for equality. The films present a diverse line up of creatives and content that speak to viewers from a place of authenticity and boldness, both in the story and in the method of storytelling, all helmed and executive produced by women. The creators include directors Allison Glock (executive producer Fifty/50) and Kate T. Parker (“Strong is the New Pretty”); Shayla Harris (producer, “Who Killed Malcolm X?”); Bethany Mollenkof; Elizabeth Lo (“Stray”); and Bonni Cohen (“Athlete A”), as well as executive producer Robin Roberts. The five films are a part of Google’s commitment last year to increase visibility and coverage of women’s sports and will premiere June 1 on ESPN2.
- ABC Owned Television Stations. The No. 1 trusted market leader in local news, kicks off Fifty/50 on March 17 with 50 inspiring stories of powerful, courageous, women pioneers breaking barriers stemming from the 37-word law that changed the lives of women across the U.S. The featured stories will air across ABC-owned stations ABC7/WABC-TV New York, ABC7/KABC-TV Los Angeles, ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago, 6ABC/WPVI-TV Philadelphia, ABC7/KGO-TV ABC7/San Francisco, ABC13/KTRK-TV Houston, ABC11/WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham and ABC30/KFSN-TV Fresno with a premiere on March 17, and additional linear premieres featuring new stories on April 14 and May 12. The presentation of 50 stories is a joint collaboration between the station group’s newsrooms, race and culture content team and Localish.
- Walt Disney World Resorts. An in-room channel dedicated to Fifty/50 content at Walt Disney World Resorts. The initiative kicked off on Sunday, February 27th as part of the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World Resort where 50 women from the Fifty/50 initiative ran in celebration.
What is Title IX?
Title IX made it illegal to discriminate against anyone who wished to participate in educational programs or activities (such as sports) on the basis of sex, as long as the organization receives Federal funding. One of the most noteworthy results is that more girls were able to participate in sports alongside boys. The law requires equal opportunities, services, and benefits so that high schools can’t have boys’ soccer, basketball, and baseball teams without also running teams for girls or at least allowing girls to play on the same teams.
The actual text of the law states:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation, in be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Are you excited to see this series coming to Disney+? Do you hope the other content comes as well? Do you think a Disney+ / ESPN+ merger is coming?
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.