Showtime Sports Looks To Maximize Time, Value With Floyd Mayweather Deal
The challenge for Showtime Sports and Exec VP & GM Stephen Espinoza in the wake of the company's deal with boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. is to “maximize their time together ... and make sure the investment pays off at their end,” according to Steve Carp of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Espinoza found “allies" at Showtime parent company CBS, as both CBS President & CEO Leslie Moonves and Showtime Chair & CEO Matt Blank “follow boxing.” When Espinoza told the pair that he “could deliver Mayweather, they gave him the green light to make the deal.” Their hope is that by “exposing nonboxing fans to Mayweather through CBS's various platforms, Showtime can grow its brand.” Espinoza said that the net is “still deciding how to sell” the May 4 Mayweather-Robert Guerrero fight. He said, "The home run potential is broader exposure to the mainstream audience." There will be a “reality series showing the two fighters' preparations.” The show, "All Access," will air “four episodes on Showtime as well as on CBS.” Carp wrote, “Don't be surprised to see Mayweather on ‘60 Minutes’ or Guerrero and wife Casey, who won her battle with leukemia,” on "The Talk." Espinoza's challenge beyond Mayweather is to “put compelling sports programming on Showtime.” He has added a sports version of "60 Minutes." He signed Jim Rome and “is trying to put an edge” on "Inside the NFL." One way to do that “might be to have Mayweather, who is known for making large bets, do a regular gambling segment during football season.” But Espinoza said that the NFL would “likely frown upon that.” Even though he has Mayweather, Espinoza said that Showtime “needs to consistently put on better fights if it wants to keep current fans tuning in while cultivating new viewers.” And he needs to “show those fights live on the West Coast” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/5).
FULL COURT PRESS: In L.A., Greg Braxton wrote Showtime is “making an aggressive push in the sports arena that is extensively covered by broadcast networks, specialty venues such as ESPN and the NFL Network, and its chief rival, HBO.” While boxing, "Inside the NFL," and other sports shows “have traditionally been part of Showtime's lineup," execs contend that the exclusive PPV deal with Mayweather, plus “regularly scheduled sports hours" on Wednesday nights built around "60 Minutes Sports" and "Jim Rome on Showtime," mark a "new era for the network.” Showtime President of Entertainment David Nevins said, "We want to take it to a place where it could really have an impact while doing things differently from other networks." Espinoza said that he is “determined to make Showtime's menu stand out ‘with provocative, distinctive storytelling.’” Braxton wrote "60 Minutes Sports” might be “seen as a direct challenge” to HBO’s "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel." But Showtime execs said that they “believe they have an advantage because of the ‘60 Minutes’ name, and that such comparisons are irrelevant” (LATIMES.com, 3/5).