By Jake Donovan
The early returns on Floyd Mayweather’s self-titled documentary underline the difference between being a superstar and a boxing star.
‘MAYWEATHER’ – a one-hour documentary on the sport’s pound-for-pound king – made its network premiere Saturday evening on CBS. The segment aired one week prior to the unbeaten welterweight’s May 4 pay-per-view showdown with Robert Guerrero, the first of a lucrative six-fight, 30-month deal inked with Showtime after a career spent on rival HBO.
It’s a rare occasion when boxing is afforded prime-time network coverage, which is a shame that such a premium time slot was occupied with a product that generated low ratings and poor reviews.
The Saturday night segment, which aired at 8PM ET, pulled in just over 1.7 million viewers according to preliminary ratings. The figure is a great statistic in boxing circles, but a laughable figure in the world of prime-time coverage.
The episode marked CBS’ lowest rated telecast for the month of April. It produced a near 250% dropoff from its ratings in the same time slot a week ago, which itself was down from the preceding week.
To put the show’s ratings in perspective, fewer viewers tuned into the free-TV show than the 2.4 million pay-per-view buys generated in his May 2007 win over Oscar de la Hoya.
The show’s dismal preliminary ratings matched the poor reviews received, generating an average critic rating of one out of five stars.
CBS aired the segment at 8PM ET as an unofficial lead-in to Showtime’s live boxing card from Brooklyn, headlined by Danny Garcia’s narrow points win over Zab Judah in their 140 lb. title fight. The documentary and boxing card both went up against HBO’s own offering, a middleweight championship bout between Sergio Martinez and Martin Murray.
On the network side, ‘MAYWEATHER’ was one of three 8PM offerings swallowed whole by Fox’ coverage of NASCAR: Sprint Cup, which pulled in more than 5 million viewers for the highest rated show of the evening in any prime-time spot.
‘MAYWEATHER’ finished fourth among the four major networks, edged out by NBC’s ironically-titled ‘Smash’, whose viewership of 1.89 million matched last week’s season-lowest rating.
The documentary is also scheduled to air throughout the week on Showtime Extreme, as part of more than 100 hours of coverage dedicated to Showtime’s May 4 pay-per-view event. Mayweather has been the subject of three separate series.
’30 Days In May’ which chronicled the time frame from last May’s win over Miguel Cotto to his trip to Clark County Detention Center, where he spent nearly three months in prison as per a plea bargain stemming from domestic violence charges.
Mayweather has also shared screen time with Guerrero in Showtime’s ‘All Access’ series.
CBS and its affiliate networks remain on board for a full week of event coverage, regardless of the general lack of buzz surrounding the event.
CBS Sports Network will air five past Mayweather fights – his wins over de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley and Victor Ortiz – throughout the week. Also to be featured are encore showings of the entire ‘All Access: Mayweather vs. Guerrero’ series, as well as live coverage of Friday’s weigh-in and Saturday night’s post-fight press conference.
Interest figures to pick up during fight week, though the fighters themselves have attributed to waning interest in the fight.
Mayweather was selective in his media requests, remaining reserved until a recent media conference call. Guerrero’s accessibility was cut off following last month’s arrest at JFK Airport in New York, due to a severe misunderstanding on the state’s strict anti-gun laws. The Californian was charged with possession of an unregistered weapon (which was licensed in over 40 states, but not in New York).
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox