Epix is set to launch a new version of The Contender, the Mark Burnett-produced boxing-competition reality TV franchise that ran on NBC, ESPN and Versus from 2005-2009. The new 12-episode will start production in 2018 with an anticipated debut later in the year. MGM Television is producing with Paramount Television.
The upcoming series will feature 16 fighters in an elimination competition. “Boxing belongs on premium pay television and there is no better home for The Contender than Epix.” said Burnett, President of MGM Television and Digital.
“We will tell stories of the fighters, the families and their difficult journeys in the emotionally compelling Contender style,” he continued, “so that viewers get to vicariously ‘walk a mile’ in the boxers shoes.”
The boxers will be divided into two teams to train, each overseen by a boxing coach who will act as mentor. Over the course of the season, the competitors will live together, train together and fight each other in the ring, all vying to be become the ultimate Contender and take the winner’s six-figure purse.
“The Contender has launched the careers of many fighters, with some Contenders taking world titles – but this new iteration of the series will also showcase the heart, spirit and dramatic personal stories of these fighters as they fight in and out of the ring to realize their dreams,” said Michael Wright, President of Epix. “This is not only real boxing, but real, raw human storytelling from the best unscripted television production team in the world.”
The original four seasons of The Contender were seen by 180 million cumulative viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. The series saw eleven Contender fighters fight for world championships after appearing on the show, with five title winners, including Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora, who went on to win the WBC Super Welterweight Championship, and season three champion Sakio “The Scorpion” Bikawent who won the WBC & IBO Super Middleweight Championships.
Eric Van Wagenen is executive producer and showrunner alongside Mark Burnett. The format is owned by MGM Television and Paramount Television. Epix, a premium pay TV network, is an MGM company.