EliteXC in Focus: Business Outlook & (Belated) Renegade Review

November 27, 2007

On Saturday November 10 EliteXC presented their eigth event (including co-promotions) on the Showtime network with Renegade live from Corpus Christi Texas. Dave Meltzer reports that the show produced a live gate of $259,124 on a paid attendance of 4,539. The broadcast was a mixed bag, ranging from bizarrely terrible (male dancers in the opening sequence) to well produced an entertaining (specifically the Kimbo vignettes).

The company is at an important crossroads in its development. The stock is now trading at $8, down from a high of $15 as reality begins to set in that the company is losing money hand over fist with profitability nowhere in sight. Time will tell whether the PR splash that the spree of acquisitions bought was a prudent business decision. For now the moves look foolish for a company that has very little in the way of revenue and little prospect to change that much in the near to intermediate term.

At the end of the day the only person, or in this case entity, that the company has to answer to is Showtime. Showtime invested heavily in the promotion after being used by the UFC in its negotiations with HBO. That’s a positive and a negative. On the one hand they get the exposure and legitimacy that comes with Showtime, but ultimately they have to find a way to gain traction in a crowded market place, one that has proven to be very tough for everyone who has entered it that isn’t named the UFC.

Ultimately, Showtime will decide EliteXC’s fate. Viacom, Showtime’s parent company, is the second largest holder of Pro Elite stock. The company’s future depends on Showtime’s commitment to the MMA space and willingness to eat major losses in growing the brand. As Meltzer noted, the lack of a promotional special and major push for the Renegade show is probably not an encouraging sign. With the UFC on HBO out of the picture for now, one wonders how long Showtime’s appetite for MMA will endure without seeing tangible returns.

Generating revenue is going to be hard for the group given the current environment. Without a strong television clearance the prospects of doing any significant business on pay-per-view is virtually non-existent. Frank v. Ken Shamrock is only fight this company, or any other outside of the UFC, can make which would have a chance at doing business on pay-per-view. And even that fight, without strong television is unlikely to do anything remotely approaching the UFC’s numbers. From a purely academic standpoint the fight would do a great service to the industry by setting a bench mark for non-UFC pay-per-view events.

The company’s great white hope might be found in a network TV deal with NBC, but even that would be something of a shot in the dark at this point with little in the way of established talent and nothing in the way of brand power. Short of catching lightning in a bottle, ala Griffin v. Bonnar on the Ultimate Fighter I Season Finale, it is hard to imagine the company being able to capitalize on such exposure. (More details and analysis on MMA’s looming move to network TV later this week).

Renegade featured several fighters who the company could successfully build around. Antonio Silva looked like a star at 265, as did Kimbo Slice and KJ Noons. Slice projects a strong persona with a great look, complete with strategically shaved chest and back hair as well as a gold grill, and a good promo.

However, on the whole the show looked minor league. I don’t like the ring bell or Jimmy Lennon Jr. as the announcer because they make me think boxing. Brand differentiation is key, and just like the IFL using the ring makes it look like a bad boxing knockoff, so too does using boxing’s signature elements. I think one of the most under appreciated keys to the UFC’s success is how far the company goes out of its way to differentiate its product from boxing.

The arena setup also made the show look smaller as they had the cage set up off center creating a short entrance ramp that in close shots made it look like they were in a small television studio. Maybe they were going for an intimate setting and maybe you can make the case that the company will lose every time if it tries to compete with the UFC’s spectacle style production, but it didn’t work for me.

Those complaints about the production aside, I thought the product inside the case was pretty good. Diaz and Noons looked like a good UFC under card fight coming in, but was well promoted on the show. The fight looked like it was going to be a barn burner until a nasty cut ended Diaz’s night. That disappointing ending, along with the fiasco that was Kimbo’s debut, put a damper on what was otherwise a somewhat promising event.

One Response to “EliteXC in Focus: Business Outlook & (Belated) Renegade Review”

  1. Dale Michael Williams on February 10th, 2012 4:08 AM

    Got UFCTV and nothing but trouble. Can’t gain access to prelims or all fights category. Watching chosen fights results in screen freezing. Have to click out and on several times before able to finish a fight. Tried UFCTVSupport and get double talk, nothing more. They claim I have someone else using my acct., and I told them, I have a business with my wife and a home. Both have computers. Neither of us use UFCTV at same time, so their accusations are unfounded and irrelevant. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, via support or in correcting issues. So, screw me and I screw back ten fold. I video tape every second I’m on the web and all we do. I’ve sent to YouTube and dozens of other media type forums, all my concerns and issues relating to UFCTV’s horrible competence and customer concerns. Lets see how UFCTV deals with future issues now that I do more than BS, as they have done me!

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