Showtime hoped Fedor Emelianenko’s debut on their network would push the ratings past their top-ranked Strikeforce “Carano vs. Cyborg” show from last summer. It didn’t quite happen, but the ratings were good nonetheless.

While Showtime executives do not traditionally release ratings figures, early estimates for this past weekend’s historic “Strikeforce and M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Werdum” co-promoted event put the average Showtime viewership at approximately 550,000 viewers when including DVR and on-demand figures.

As is typical for mixed martial arts broadcasts, the viewership increased throughout the broadcast, and the ratings peaked during the main event between Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum with a 2.1 household rating and more than 700,000 viewers.

The sources also indicated that Showtime executives are pleased with the results and that “Fedor vs. Werdum” now ranks as the third-highest-rated Strikeforce card in Showtime’s history behind the August 2009 “Carano vs. Cyborg” event and January’s “Strikeforce: Miami.”

Not bad for a card that didn’t have much interest beyond it featuring a Fedor Emelianenko fight. If Fedor’s opponent had been Alistair Overeem or someone who was perceived to stand a chance, it probably would have bested “Carano vs. Cyborg” rather easily. If we only knew then what we know now. It’s probably safe to say we’ll see a substantial ratings increase for the rematch.

Meanwhile, the UFC’s counter-programming efforts produced an average audience of 1.5 million for the replay of UFC 113 on Spike TV. While Spike’s average and peak viewership numbers were clearly higher than Showtime’s, Showtime can still claims the ratings victory overall (1.38HH SF > 1.1HH UFC) and in the men’s 18-34 demo (1.39 SF > 1.2 UFC) since Spike is available in approximately 80 million more homes.

Image via Esther Lin for Showtime