NBC landed a knockout punch Friday when it beat opponents ABC, CBS and Fox to win Mark Burnett’s take on boxing.
The prize came at a cost though: NBC will pay around $2 million per episode for unscripted drama The Contender. That’s a richer price than networks usually pay for scripted dramas or comedies. The steep price tag was enough to convince the other three networks to pass on the show, even though Burnett is the hottest reality producer on TV with CBS’s Survivor: All-Stars and NBC’s The Apprentice.
Moreover, sources said, Burnett gets six 30-second spots to sell in the show, a deal he also gets for Survivor. That’s a highly unusual set-up, although without a syndicated backend to attract top reality producers networks are coming up with different ways to compensate them.
The Contender will take viewers through a nationwide search for a young Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard. Other executive producers are Dreamworks TV’s Jeffrey Katzenberg and Rocky star Sylvester Stallone.