Chad Finn | Sports Media

Boston 25 Sports makes time for nuanced storytelling

In the crowded and competitive landscape of Boston sports television, there’s so much emphasis on the latest developments with the professional franchises that there isn’t much time for nuanced storytelling.

Boston 25 is making time.

This Friday night, “Boston 25 Sports In Depth” premieres on the channel. It is a half-hour monthly program airing at 10:30 p.m. that is designed to be a stylistically similar version of ESPN’s “E:60” or HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” The time slot will be filled the other weeks of the month with a news version of the show, such as an investigative report or a look at Massachusetts’s most wanted.


“We’ve found as a news organization that that Friday night spot between 10:30 and 11 p.m. has actually done pretty well, which opened our eyes,’’ said Tom Leyden, Boston 25’s sports director. “It’s become clear that viewers want and will watch more long-form reporting, more storytelling.”

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News director Mike Oliveira and Leyden agreed that Boston sports — and not just at the professional level — was rich with stories that weren’t being told in full, or weren’t being told at all.

“So the decision was made,” said Leyden. “Let’s expand it and make sports a part of it.”

Leyden cited a September story by reporter Christine McCarthy on Brian Cerow, the captain of the Hopedale/Blackstone-Millville Regional football team who broke his neck on the team’s first defensive play of the season, as one that would fit well on “Sports In Depth.”

“The kid cracked his vertebrae, walked off the field, knew he was hurt but didn’t realize how serious it was,’’ said Leyden. “He was within moments of being completely paralyzed if he’d moved the wrong way. It was an incredibly compelling story, and she had 90 seconds to tell it.


“That’s just the nature of the beast, but it’s a great example of a story where the reporter probably had so much more material but it just ended up on the cutting room floor. This gives it the opportunity to shine a little bit more.”

The premiere will feature three stories:

  A feature on Boston 25 News reporter Julie Grauert and her boyfriend Rob Summers, who was a pitcher for Oregon State when he was hit by a car and left quadriplegic 11 years ago. Leyden said Summers is the first person to receive an experimental treatment for paralysis, funded by the Reeve Foundation. Grauert and Summers are both competing in Sunday’s New York City Marathon and, according to Leyden, they have raised close to $20,000 for the Reeve Foundation.

  Sports reporter Butch Stearns’s feature on a youth golf team that is headed to Arizona to compete in the golf equivalent of the Little League World Series.

  A conversation with Bruins president Cam Neely, who discussed with Leyden the challenges he faces staying patient while trying to please the fan base, how he handles criticism in the digital age, why he no longer does regular interviews on the “Felger and Mazz” radio show, and his dedication to cancer funding.


Leyden said there is a connection between the decision to green-light “Boston 25 Sports In Depth” and the decision to shift Sunday’s “Sports Wrap” program from 11:35 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. That show now has a 20-minute run time that leads into a repeat of “Sports In Depth.”

“It’s the chance to do something a little different in a saturated market where a lot of the shows have the same content,’’ said Leyden. “Think about it. On Sunday night, including NBC Sports Boston and NESN, there are six highlight/analysis shows going on at the same time.

“Across the board, is there an audience for them? Yeah, no question, absolutely. But nobody dominates that space consistently. If you look at the ratings week after week, it goes up and down and up and down. So it got watered down because there are so many options.”

Leyden is enthused by the chance to tell more nuanced stories, to elaborate and look at the bigger picture.

“The opportunity to do something like that on a local level is right up my alley,’’ he said. “I’d rather spend my time doing that than trying to figure out a way to try to make yourself different against four or five different competitors that you’re going head to head against with highlights and scores and that stuff.

“This is a great chance to focus on the bigger picture, which allows us to produce something different and do what we truly like to do: tell good stories.”

Chad Finn can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.