Floyd Mayweather is used to starring late in the evening on fight night. He became the highest-paid athlete in the world by becoming a pay-per-view phenomenon, while racking up 43 victories without a defeat. His nine PPV events generated 9.6 million buys and $543 million in television revenue, according to HBO. Mayweather has been part of the four biggest non-heavyweight PPV events in boxing history.
Mayweather’s success on PPV is fueled by being the showman who goes by the name of Money. He stars in reality shows on cable and says and tweets outrageous things to draw attention to his bouts. But the show goes primetime Saturday night on network TV with a one-hour documentary, Mayweather. on CBS CBS +0.65% about the life of the fighter and his May 4
opponent Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero.
The special is part of the 30-month contract Mayweather signed in February with Showtime Networks, which is part of CBS. The deal could be worth more than $200 million if Mayweather completes the six fight contract.
The CBS special is narrated by musician and NCIS: Los Angeles star LL Cool J. It features extensive interviews with Mayweather, his entourage and even Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (see video below). LL Cool J also contributes a song, “We’re The Greatest,” to the film from his new album Authentic, which hits stores next week. Mayweather is produced by Ross Greenburg, who formerly was the longtime head of HBO Sports. “[Greenburg] is one of the most talented documentarians in sports,” says Showtime Sports head honcho Stephen Espinoza.
Boxing programming has been almost non-existent on network television in recent years. CBS aired multiple episodes of Showtime’s boxing reality series Fight Camp 360: Pacquiao vs. Mosley in 2011 ahead of their bout on Showtime PPV. CBS last aired a live boxing event in 1997 when Bernard Hopkins knocked out Glen Johnson. “The previous boxing content produced on Showtime and re-purposed for CBS didn’t make sense,” says Espinoza, who joined Showtime at the end of 2011. He says that shows like All Access are targeted at boxing fans, while the primetime audience on network TV is much broader than that. Espinoza says the Mayweather documentary is a “more cohesive way” to get at the network audience.
Showtime boxing is on a role with viewership up 30% in 2012, and now the network has an exclusive two-and-a-half year contract with the biggest star in the sport. The Mayweather special kicks off a busy week for Showtime boxing. Showtime will air a championship fight card from the Barclays Center immediately following the documentary that is highlighted by Danny Garcia versus Zab Judah. There will be a series of live events on Showtime leading up to the Mayweather-Guerrero fight on May 4. In the middle of it all will be Mayweather, putting on a show like only Money can.