Jim Rome: New Showtime show key piece in his CBS puzzle

Tonight is a big night for Jim Rome. His new Jim Rome on Showtime series will debut at 10 p.m. ET.

It is a weekly one-hour show featuring interviews with athletes and celebrities. Rome has an impressive guest list for the opener: Kobe Bryant, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Perry, and Hollywood producer and franchise owner Peter Gruber.

But mostly it will be about Rome, as you can see in this clip.

Rome says, “I don’t think I’ve had my best broadcast moment yet. I’m still chasing it.”

The Showtime show is a big reason why Rome left ESPN for CBS earlier this year. The package includes a Monday-Friday show on CBS Sports Network and his radio show will be moving to the new CBS Sports Radio Network in January.

In a Q/A with me in May, Rome discussed his big move:

Am I a risk guy?  Doing nothing would have been a greater risk. But I’m pretty calculating. Sometimes, you have to push yourself.

I’m trying to get in and hopefully make a difference. It’s a big swing. Guys like us who have done this a long time, you’ve got to take a shot.

Showtime now gives him the best platform to pull it altogether. He could reach a large audience and won’t have to work within the constraints of conventional television. “Unconventional” is a word Rome uses over and over in describing the show.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Rome said:

One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle is the Showtime show. I think it’s going to work. It’s different in a lot of ways, far and away the most challenging show I’ve ever taken on … there’s nothing else like it on television. I’ve always done that daily topical half-hour show, come in, rant, interview, panel, rant, thanks for coming. That’s not what this show is. It’s nice to know if I want to go to another place and push another envelope, I can do that. There’ll be a crossover element. People in the arts, politicians, literary people … who have an opinion on sports.

And Rome added this comment to Eric Deggans of the National Sports Journalism Center:

“I can go with an f-bomb if I need it,” he said, laughing again. “I never felt the need to go with that on the air before. But it’s nice to know it’s there if I need it.”

A successful Showtime show could help him attract viewers to his daily show on the CBS Sports Network. While he already has a healthy radio audience, Showtime provides him with a chance to reach new listeners.

Yet pulling off this kind of hybrid sports/entertainment vehicle isn’t easy. If it is a flop, it will be a big black mark on his move to CBS.

Rome, though, is confident he can get it done. If there’s one thing he doesn’t lack, it’s confidence.

Should be interesting to see if he can pull it off.