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Strikeforce ratings in context

Yeah, Strikeforce’s ratings were not good. But this isn’t the first time MMA has bombed on CBS – EliteXC’s Unfinished Business card on the network drew the nearly identical ugh rating of 2.62 million people, .01 million less than this past weekend’s Nashville show. That event was headlined by Robbie Lawler vs Scott Smith 2, was thrown together in 5 weeks, and was basically expected to do shitty ratings.

This latest Strikeforce card doesn’t have any of the same excuses to fall back on. They had a big money headliner in Dan Henderson and the card was set up as a showcase for Strikeforce’s champions that went horribly awry. They also went more than half an hour over their allocated timeslot, which historically has caused CBS affiliates (who make money off local news ad sales) to lose their shit. And of course to top things off there was the brawl. The stupid, stupid brawl.

Kelly Kahl, the unfortunate CBS exec in charge of dealing with all these headaches, wasn’t overly negative about the situation but he wasn’t exactly positive either. Here he is talking to Sherdog about the brawl and future shows:

“It isn’t something the sport needs and that aspect was disappointing,” said Kahl. “In the same vein, you see it in basketball, you see it in baseball, you see it in football. There’s a lot of emotion and things kind of happen, but it’s not something we want to see happen in the future.”

Kahl, who said he enjoyed the three title fights, would not speculate on what this incident would mean for the future of additional Strikeforce broadcasts on the network.

“We do the same thing we do after every show,” said Kahl. “We review it. We have a discussion. We look at the ratings and we assess.”

Compare that with Kahl’s comments after EliteXC Heat, which was another fiasco: much more positive. But even with 4.3 million viewers, it wasn’t enough to keep CBS from axing EliteXC for the drama it caused. You know the drill from there: EliteXC died and a CBS deal went to Strikeforce along with most of EliteXC’s other useful assets. EliteXC is dead, long live EliteXC. So while you might try to say this was the first time Strikeforce has underperformed on CBS, you have to figure execs simply see this as the second bomb and the second burn they’ve gotten from the sport of MMA.