TV Ratings: WEC 45, Strikeforce: Evolution

December 23, 2009

The television ratings from the latest WEC and Strikeforce offerings have been released courtesy of Versus and Showtime (brought to us by MMAJunkie):

WEC 45 – 330,000 viewers
Strikeforce: Evolution – 341,000 viewers

Payout Perspective:

The results definitely favor Strikeforce in this latest head-to-head. Not only did Strikeforce outperform the WEC in viewership, but it did so on a network, Showtime, with a significantly smaller subscriber base. However, in the overall picture, 341,000 isn’t exceptional for the organization – it’s about par for the course.

The same cannot be said for the WEC’s 330,000 on Versus. It’s below what it has been doing lately (about 400-500k) and well below their best effort in 2008 (WEC 34, 1.54 million viewers). The non-title headline was likely the greatest influencing factor here, but you could also argue that the greater appeal of the heavier fighters on the Strikeforce card was very much evident in the week leading up to the fight.

It highlights the curious dichotomy that exists within combat sports: despite being arguably more entertaining on the average – largely on account of their speed, endurance, and tenacity – lighter fighters are often not as popular as heavier fighters (holding all else equal…like skill, for example).

Part of the intrigue of the WEC is that it can differentiate itself using the smaller, lighter, and faster fighters. But in order to be successful, the organization will also have to wage a continuous PR and marketing war that fights this very dichotomy in the future.

9 Responses to “TV Ratings: WEC 45, Strikeforce: Evolution”

  1. mmaguru on December 23rd, 2009 4:46 PM

    Strikeforce is there about what they usually do but probably a disappointment coming off of CBS. Looks like the casual fans did not follow.

    copied from another site:
    Showtime trends:

    Strikeforce: Evolution 341,000 viewers
    Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg 576,000
    Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields 275,00 viewers
    Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz 365,000 viewers

    WEC trends:
    WEC 45: 330,000
    WEC 44: 411,000
    WEC 43 419,000
    WEC 42 670,000
    WEC 41 1,300,000

  2. tv analyst on December 23rd, 2009 5:58 PM

    One thing that definetly played a big difference in the numbers is that Versus is currently not being carried by DirecTV. According to DTVs Q3 10Q thats 18+million addressable subscribers that are not receiving Versus who used to. Not to say the fight card itself is not the main driver, but I’d bet WEC does high 300s/low 400s with DTV on board.

  3. tv analyst on December 23rd, 2009 5:59 PM

    One thing that definitely played a big difference in the numbers is that Versus is currently not being carried by DirecTV. According to DTVs Q3 10Q that’s 18+million addressable subscribers that are not receiving Versus who used to. Not to say the fight card itself is not the main driver, but I’d bet WEC does high 300s/low 400s with DTV on board.

  4. Brain Smasher on December 24th, 2009 6:54 AM

    A friend who works for Direct TV’s call center said she gets tons of calls every day complaining about not getting Verses. So im sure this has a lot to do with the decline in numbers.

    I am suprised that Strikeforce on CBS isnt translating into higher numbers on Showtime. If the UFC was on CBS we would see a sizable jump in PPV buys just like we did with UFC on Spike years ago. Now if people will pay $40-$50 for a PPV. Why arent people who were won over, if they were, paying $10-$20 for a handful of movie channels to watch Strikeforce on Showtime? We needs a larger sample over a longer period of time. But this doesnt bode well for a future on PPV and could signify a huge drop in ratings of their next CBS card.

  5. Stan Kosek on December 24th, 2009 7:15 AM

    These numbers are about what I expected for both considering the networks they are on. I imagine the replays that both networks will do OK considering the buzz around both shows. It just supports my belief that Strikeforce really needs a bigger presence outside of CBS other than Showtime, it’s just not going to pick up enough casual fans.

  6. Brain Smasher on December 24th, 2009 11:15 AM

    I think Strikeforce is making huge mistakes and the lack of carry over from CBS is due to their own mismanagement. SF has not created anything the people care about. Fighter or Brand. The Cung Le vs Smith fight was a disaster. I felt it was a good fight on paper. You get the decently skilled fighter verses the tough guy who is to slow, sloppy, and flat footed to put up a fight. Good showcase fight for Cung. But one of the things people bitch about the UFC for really hurt Strikeforce and shows why the UFC has the rules it does. Cung Le didnt want to fight anyone good. He was doing movies which a UFC contract may not have allowed to interfere with the fight. Cung was out of shape. So in stead of this fight showcasing Cung and building him into a huge star on CBS. He gas’ out do to lack of training(doing movies) and gets embarrassed

    Strikeforce cant afford to make these kinds of mistakes. When you are limited on the amount of big name fighters you have you cant afford to set up “all or nothing” fights. This is how Elite XC hurt themselves. Slice vs Petruzeli is a all or nothing fight. Seth won and was about uselss. He still wasnt a draw or contender. So kimbo was wasted. If Cung was to lose you need to pass his cred and popularity to a legit fighter who has some cred himself. Smith being a punching back in all his professional career is not going to be a legit contender with win over Cung. So why risk it? If Cung was fighting someone who had some cred then no matter who wins or loses, SF comes out with a more credible fighter than they went in with. This is how you get your fighters to be perceived as being better than the UFC this is how Pride did it. You dont have to be the best fighter in the world for people to thing you are. But you have to fight someone who has some cred and momentum built up so you can better yourself in the publics eyes. These no win situational fights are Promotion killers.

  7. Whispering Death on December 26th, 2009 3:21 PM

    They’re too small, they’re too light, I’ve been around enough to remember when people said the same thing about the UFC having a 155lb division.

    Weight doesn’t matter. 135lb guys look the same size as 265lb guys on TV. They each take up 32-inches of your 32-inch TV.

    What matters is the fighters and the brand. I don’t think more than 300,000 even know exactly what “World Extreme Cagefighting” is. It’s stuck on a deep deep cable channel. Furthermore, the fights didn’t help. Cowboy Cerrone is a fun fighter but he’s not fighting for a title and the last time he did he got pistol whipped. He’s almost like a Jon Fitch in that you know he’s good, but you also know he got destroyed last time he fought the champ — so people aren’t super excited about seeing him work his way back up to the title.

    Weak brand plus fights no one cares about = low viewership.

    If you put Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber as a main event and attached a “UFC 1XX” sticker to it, you’d see a massive increase in purchases. But few know or care about WEC.

  8. Kevin on December 28th, 2009 10:14 PM

    I am shocked nobody has pointed out something as obvious as they were going up against eachother for viewers!!!

    I believe if they weren’t competing against one another Saturday night that both of them could have very well done half a million viewers. (Also when DVR #’s are added they’ll look better as well.) Not too bad in my opinion.

  9. Kelsey Philpott on December 29th, 2009 8:44 AM

    “The results definitely favor Strikeforce in this latest head-to-head.”

    Additionally, I think it was pretty well implied throughout much of the conversation.


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