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CBS Exec Kelly Kahl Talks Strikeforce & Fedor

CBS EliteXC Saturday Night Fights

Well, we had a deal with Strikeforce for some time. When they did a deal with Showtime, CBS had a deal in place, as well, and we always kept the door open. We were just kind of waiting for the right place, right time and right talent. And once Fedor was signed, that certainly looked to us as a great way to jump back into MMA on network TV. And talking to our partners at Strikeforce and Showtime, we were able to put a fight together and we’re very excited to get back on the air…Certainly [promoting Fedor] is part of the plan and that’s what we’re going to work on almost immediately start doing. While Fedor is certainly the No. 1 heavyweight in the world, you know, we have to let non-MMA fans know who this guy is. He’s got a great look, he’s got a great story and we need to share that with people…Well, what we talked about the last couple of times was if we could improve our demographics on a Saturday night, which we did a great job of the last few fights, and then, you know, we have to sell commercials. So if we can sell commercials, if we can improve our demos then we would consider that a success. … We don’t have kind of the built-in media hot buttons that maybe we’ve had in the past, but like I said, we do have the world’s No. 1 heavyweight, who is an interesting and compelling story, and again, it’s up to us to let the people know who he is and what that story is. When we get that out there, we’ll get people there. Certainly in the MMA world, everyone knows who Fedor is and we’re excited to be giving a lot of these people their first chance to see him.

—CBS primetime programming head honcho Kelly Kahl talking to MMA Fanhouse about broadcasting Fedor’s Strikeforce debut on CBS.

Kahl brings up the biggest question coming out of yesterday’s big announcement. Can CBS promote Fedor effectively enough to turn the Nov. 7 show into a ratings success?

It won’t be an easy task. Fedor has certainly garnered more attention in the US in the past year than ever before, but he’s still relatively unknown to the casual audience. He doesn’t look like your typical fighter and doesn’t speak English to the press, and even if he did, he doesn’t exactly have a captivating personality.

CBS can still create a compelling story out of it though. “The small, pudgy Russian heavyweight takes on the giant, intimidating knockout artist. Oh and by the way, the emotionless Russian is the best fighter on the planet and he’s going to murder him. Don’t believe us, tune in on Nov. 7.” Okay, I’m not a marketing guy, and I’m sure they can come up with something much better, but you get the point. They have something to work with here. Plus, they’ll have weeks worth of NFL games to market it to the target demo.

It’s not a lost cause, but without Gina Carano on the card they definitely have their work cut out for them.

By the way, the Sears Centre in Chicago is all but official for the venue.

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