The overnight ratings for EliteXC “Heat” are in, and they’re very similar to the ratings EliteXC “Primetime” put up on May 31 in the first ever primetime network television broadcast of mixed martial arts.
TVByTheNumbers.com has the number and while the 18-49 demo share was only slightly down, more people overall and in that demographic actually watched America’s Most Wanted during the 9PM-10PM time slot.
Kimbo Slice got back in the ring last night for CBS’s EliteXC Saturday Night Fights and got pounded in the ring, losing to Seth Petruzelli in 15 seconds, and to Fox’s America’s Most Wanted in the ratings by 1.62 million viewers and 0.2 adults 18-49 demo ratings points. That’s exactly the same overnight viewership for Kimbo Slice from his bout on May 31, and just a tick down from the demo, but America’s Most Wanted was even stronger than it was on May 31.
MMAPayout.com has a breakdown for each half hour.
9:00 p.m. – 3.53 million viewers (#4), A18-49: 1.3/ 4 (#3)
9:30 p.m. – 4.48 million viewers (#3), A18-49: 1.9/ 6 (#2)
10:00 p.m. – 4.37 million viewers (#3), A18-49: 1.9/ 6 (#1)
10:30 p.m. – 4.84 million viewers (#3), A18-49: 2.2/ 7 (#1)
MMAPayout.com also points out that the household rating is not in yet, but they are predicting it will end up somewhere in the 2.6-2.8 range.
Also worth noting is that ABC and FOX smoked CBS for the night, and a repeat of Law & Order drew more overall viewers in the 10PM slot.
Of course, these numbers would be more encouraging if Kimbo had actually fought who he was supposed to and won. The second CBS event produced 2.62 million viewers and a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo, which essentially reinforces what we already knew—Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano attract the viewers. Now that the Kimbo Slice myth has been debunked, it’s probably safe to say that he wouldn’t pull the same ratings if EliteXC put him back in the main event.
Following the show last night, CBS Senior Executive Vice President Kelly Kahl told Ariel Helwani they are committed to holding the fourth and final event on their current deal, but the details of when, where, and who are all up in the air. Quite honestly, I have no idea how they would be able to put up comparable numbers unless they do some kind of major co-promotion with Affliction, come up with a dream lineup, and promote the hell out of it.
In an ideal world, perhaps co-main events of Fedor vs. Arlovski and Carano vs. Cyborg. Some people will still tune in to see Kimbo, so put him against in the third fight against Brett Rogers. If Kimbo could actually pull off the upset, he could regain some of his credibility with the casual audience. Why not? His stock couldn’t get much lower than it already is. Vitor Belfort still has somewhat of a name, so throw him in with Robbie Lawler. Then how about Jake Shields vs. Eddie Alvarez to round out the televised card. Of course, it’s not going to happen, especially with Golden Boy involved now, but honestly, I have no idea how else they’ll pull ratings like this again. Somehow, Affliction and Golden Boy have to nuzzle their way into this network deal for it to be even worth everyone’s trouble of putting on another CBS card.
[UPDATE 10/05/08 8:20PM ET] – CBS Exec VP Kelly Kahl is impressed by the ratings. Says anyone who thinks Kimbo’s loss affects their future with EliteXC has no idea what they’re talking about.
“The numbers last night were terrific,” Kahl said. “The total viewer number was on par with May 31 and the demos were down just a little bit, but we were up against a couple good college football games and the baseball playoffs. … Last night was a step ahead, not a step back. To do roughly the numbers we did in May against much steeper competition bodes pretty well.”
When I told Kahl that some commentators suggested before last night’s show that EliteXC could go off the air on CBS — and maybe out of business altogether — if Kimbo lost, he scoffed.
“That is 100 percent misinformed,” Kahl said, “written by a lot of people who have very little inside knowledge into what’s going on even though they might think they do.”
At least, that’s what he says…
[UPDATE 10/05/08 10:54PM ET] – MMAWeekly has a few more details on the ratings and more comments from CBS Exec VP Kelly Kahl.
Amongst male viewers in the 18-34 and 18-49 year old age brackets, “Heat” took first place with a 2.5 rating. It also took first place in the adults (men and women) 18-34 category with a 1.8 rating. In the adults 18-49 category, it tied with ABC’s broadcast of college football with 1.8 rating.
The ratings for men and women in the 18-34 and 18-49 categories were down 11 percent and four percent, respectively, from EliteXC’s CBS debut in May, the last card to feature stars Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano.
“EliteXC is bigger than Kimbo Slice,” he said. “We’ve always anticipated that Kimbo Slice could take a loss someday. All MMA fighters do. They don’t have a grasp of the things that might be going on right now.”
Though it did not eclipse EliteXC’s CBS debut, Kahl is confident that the company’s plans to sign more talent, including former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, will make yesterday’s ratings more commonplace.
“It’s looking like the night is going to tuck into slightly behind the May card, but I think it’s hopefully more representative of the cards that we would do moving forward. Recognizing that there was a lot of hype around the first one, that the second was kind of an anomaly, because we did it in July when we weren’t able to support it as well with our CBS promotion. So I like to think this is the number we can look at going forward, which is a very solid, very sustainable number.”
Hopefully, the “things that might be going on right now” have to do with Affliction and Golden Boy. Signing Tito will certainly help if they can sign him to reasonable terms and they’re still putting on shows by the time he’s done with his back surgery, but I have no illusions that will happen soon, if ever.