EXCLUSIVE: In the vein of HBO using Liev Schrieber as the voice of HBO Sports, rising sports streaming outlet DAZN has set Bobby Cannavale as the voice of 40 Days, a new documentary series co-produced with LeBron James and Maverick Carter. The plan is for him to recur as the series evolves into an umbrella for various behind-the-scenes sports series.
These kinds of follow docs are sports media mainstays, especially with the rise of digital video — think 24/7 or Hard Knocks or Tom Vs. Time. But 40 Days, which is named for the eight Monday-to-Friday weeks of training for a boxing match, is aiming to give the series a bit more flair, with individual episodes and series being directed by different filmmakers. The show premieres with a boxing focus on Tuesday night on DAZN, which recently launched in the U.S. after successfully bringing soccer, basketball and ring sports to fans in Europe and elsewhere.
John Skipper, whose long run at ESPN was capped by a stint as the network’s president before his abrupt exit in late 2017, joined DAZN Group in the spring of 2018 as executive chairman. Having steered the “30-for-30” brand at ESPN, which is known for such titles as the Oscar-winning O.J.: Made in America, Skipper is moving to put his stamp on DAZN (pronounced “da zone), which has locked up rights to boxer Canelo Alvarez, MMA and Major League Baseball in the U.S. The streaming service also operates in Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Japan, with a launch in Brazil up next.
Uninterrupted, the self-described “athlete empowerment brand” led by James and Carter, its CEO, will produce the show. In addition to the company’s channels and DAZN, 40 Days will air the following day on Univision, NBC Sports Network and regional sports networks including MSG.
The first edition of 40 Days will spotlight the build-up to the May 4 matchup between Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs. A screening of the show is planned for May 2 in Las Vegas ahead of the fight.
“We’re partnering with DAZN to reach a whole new audience of global boxing fans that want to see another side to these athletes that has yet to be shown,” Carter said. “These documentaries will shine a light on the three-dimensional aspect of who these athletes are outside of the ring and empower them to tell their own stories as they prepare for some of the biggest moments in their boxing careers.”
Skipper praised James and Carter for their “unique vantage point that allows them to understand both Canelo’s pursuit to be one of the greatest of all time and Jacobs’ dogged determination to reach the pinnacle of his sport.”