Over the weekend, we passed along news that ProElite had canceled their Sept. 20 EliteXC “Showdown” event to concentrate on their upcoming Oct. 4 CBS event. In an environment where people immediately jump to conclusions over any bad news for a promotion not named the UFC, Steve Sievert of MMAJunkie.com and Sam Caplan of Five Oz. were able to speak to officials within ProElite to find out what was going on.
Sievert spoke with ProElite CEO Charles Champion on the decision to cancel their Sept. 20 event. On a quick side note, Champion recently assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer after former CEO Doug DeLuca resigned. He has a history of turning struggling companies around.
“We look at October as a critical step in our development. We’re approaching it that way. We’re not betting the ranch on the thing, so I don’t want you to think we’re just pushing ‘all in,’ using another analogy. But, with each one of these … if you do them well, they create momentum, and if you don’t do them well, they stall momentum. A young company needs a lot of momentum.”
As for when ProElite will reach that magic word, “profitability,” Champion believes they’re within a year from reaching that seemingly impossible goal.
“I would expect that you would see that in the next 12 months. Our events are already starting to meet that criteria. We have some pretty exciting (financial) models and, I think over the next 12 months, you will see us become profitable.”
While it’s the CEO’s job to have a positive outlook, Sam Caplan gives a much more realistic view of the future of ProElite.
So for now, EliteXC is not in danger of suddenly going out of business. According to their SEC filings, it appears they have enough capital on hand to get them through the year. Will they be able to go out and land major free agents such as Tito Ortiz? Most certainly not. Can they afford Frank Shamrock’s six-figure guarantee and book him for a show? I have my doubts. No matter how you want to spin it, the promotion is underfunded, as it came well short of its goals for executing a raise. The $3 million it did raise several months ago is believed to be nothing more than a loan from corporate partner SHOWTIME. The fact that the company was not able to attract new major outside investors following the strong numbers that its May 31 show did on CBS is a major cause for concern.
If the Oct. 4 show does not hit it out of the park in all facets then CBS will not be the corporate savior some expect them to be. And without their support, I do not see how ProElite can survive. If EliteXC folds, I don’t think that will be good for fighters or the fans (competition brings the best out of everyone) but this is how I see things breaking down. If something doesn’t change and change soon, we could be living in a UFC-only world by next summer.
In short, ProElite is okay, at least for now.
[UPDATE 8/18/08 4:37PM ET] – You should really check out this satire piece Fightlinker wrote in reference to Charles Champion’s interview with MMA Junkie. It’s hilarious and by the comments, a few actually thought it was real. As fake as it is, it does contain a measure of truth. Great stuff!
More on Affliction’s buy rate
We’ve heard two stories regarding Affliction Banned’s pay-per-view buy rate. Affliction VP Tom Atencio maintains their debut event did “well beyond” 100,000 pay-per-view buys, although he refuses to release the actual number. Dave Meltzer reported that early estimates within the cable industry had the number somewhere in between 50,000-85,000 buys. Well, it appears those estimates have changed, as Meltzer recently reported in The Wrestling Observer that they’ve shifted for the better to 65,000-100,000 buys.
It’s been hard to narrow down a buy rate for the Affliction show. Promoter Tom Atencio has claimed the figure was more than 100,000. Updated cable sources we’ve checked with have estimated from a low of 65,000 to a high of 100,000. Either way, the number is both excellent by the standards of a promotion with no television (it beats anything TNA has done with 2 million weekly TV viewers), but as noted over and over, it’s a substantial money loser.
The performance of Affliction’s second show should give us a better idea of whether they’re a possible contender or a one time novelty act.