SBD/February 16, 2011/Media

Showtime Makes Big Push Into Sports With Bevy Of Original Programming

Pacquiao's May 7 PPV bout is one of two Showtime is scheduled to distribute this year
Showtime has "jumped into the ring" of sports broadcasting with new original programming projects involving the NFL, MLB, NASCAR and MMA, "as well as distribution of its first pay-per-view boxing events since 2005," according to R. Thomas Umstead of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. Showtime will "take a behind-the-scenes look" at the MLB Giants as part of a new reality series. In addition, the pay TV service acquired the rights to "Inside the NFL" in '09 and introduced a similar weekly program, "Inside NASCAR" last year. Showtime Sports Exec VP & GM Ken Hershman said, "Sports continue to be a driver of so much television programming. And we want to make sure that as part of the value proposition of Showtime that there is a healthy compliment of interesting sports programming that you can't get anywhere else." Umstead notes Showtime this year will distribute two boxing fights: Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga on March 12 and Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley on May 7. While the network historically "has been a major player in the boxing business," Hershman indicated that its "expansion into other facets of the sports world is an attempt to broaden the network's appeal to viewers beyond its original series." But Showtime "won't step on the bidding field for expensive major pro sports packages when they become available in the near future." Hershman: "I wish we could, but I don't see that, given the economics of those packages and our business model" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 2/14 issue).

ONE GIANT LEAP
: In N.Y., Bob Raissman noted Showtime's proposed TV series surrounding the Giants "appears to be on thin ice." It seems as if the players, "many of whom were not informed about the show before Showtime and MLB Productions went public with their plan, don't want any part of cameras following them around for an entire season." That "doesn't mean the reality show won't get off the ground," but "judging by the initial reaction of some Giants players, it won't have the total access quality of other reality projects," like HBO's "Hard Knocks" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/13).
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