In a surprising turn of events, Floyd Mayweather announced he is switching television networks, going from sports leader HBO to Showtime. For me, there’s more questions. It’s a gamble for both sides with a lot of potential.
First, will this help elevate the sport. Mayweather is the top attraction now. With Manny Pacquiao’s back-to-back losses, Floyd stands alone. Now if he can get CBS involved in promoting his fights as well, it will be big in drawing in a larger audience. s. HBO has done a masterful job of spreading their promotion of boxing through the Time Warner properties. The 24/7 reality shows on CNN, and having spots on NBA games. Hopefully CBS can do more.
By signing with Showtime, Mayweather will be looked upon to bringing more fans to Showtime. It will be interesting to see how many people will switch over to Showtime from HBO for Mayweather. Will it be minimal, or will it be significant. The last boxing star Showtime had of this magnitude was Mike Tyson. It will be interesting at the end of Mayweather’s deal to see how he’s helped the network compared to Tyson.
According to a New York Times story in January, Showtime has improved its subscription base to 21.3 million, which is up from 13.8 million in 2005. By comparison, HBO has held steady at 28-to-29 million. And Showtime does have a strong array of shows, including Emmy-winner Homeland, as well as other critically acclaimed shows Dexter, Californiacation, Nurse Jackie, Shameless. The network has also expanded its sports coverage wtih Jim Rome, Inside NASCAR and Inside the NFL.
But there’s always big deals that never fulfill their potential. The truth is, Floyd is 36. How good will he be at the end of the contract? If there’s a big dropoff, that could really hurt Showtime. And will Showtime and CBS be able to get Floyd out there to really build their brand? HBO was pretty good at it. I’m not sure how successful Showtime will be.
But it will all be interesting to watch.