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Has Showtime been good for MMA?

By Zach Arnold | January 17, 2011

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It’s a loaded question.

(And one that a lot of people have already a pre-determined answer to.)

The proponents of Showtime’s involvement in MMA boil it down to this — if putting money into MMA means getting the best fighters in the world to fight each other, then how can it be a bad thing? Those who oppose Showtime’s involvement in the industry say that lots of money marks come and go in fighting but it’s the knowledge that you possess and the way you run your operation that matters the most.

Recently, a commenter on the site brought up the claim that Strikeforce is negatively impacting the UFC because they are keeping some fighters away from Zuffa that otherwise would already be in ‘the big show.’ Those who defend Strikeforce say that it wouldn’t matter if it was Strikeforce or not, those same fighters would be fighting elsewhere. That answer might make sense a few years ago, but today? With the other players in MMA largely out of cash, it’s hard to say that the fighters would be fighting elsewhere outside of the UFC.

I’m not here to argue whether or not the industry should be UFC-only. What I am here to ask you is whether or you think Showtime has had a positive or negative influence on the sport.

(For the record, I’m not a believer in the UFC-only concept. However, proponents have their legitimate reasons for believing in this economic model. I won’t call you a groupie or a fan boy like King Mo is these days.)

Scott Coker tends to make PR blunders — a lot. Just like he did last year with the Middleweight-tournament-that-never-happened, this year he played the expectations game for the Heavyweight tournament and got burned for some of the things he said. Whether or not he has been telling the truth to the media is one thing. It’s another thing, however, to judge how much influence Strikeforce has versus how much Showtime is really running the show now. Case in point — the whole issue about three or five-round fights and the idea of a ‘4th judge’ that athletic commissions won’t actually sanction. When UFC and/or Dana White receive negative feedback from fans on a move they make, generally they do tend to listen to the outcry and modify the situation to make it more palatable. You can’t really say the same thing about Strikeforce, largely because the promotion is not autonomous unlike the UFC. Strikeforce is simply a conduit to help bring Showtime talent, it’s not actually the whole ball of wax. Therefore, it’s hard for someone like Scott Coker to have the power to overrule someone like Ken Hershman or the Showtime Entertainment office when it comes to fights. In my opinion, I tend to think that Showtime had some say about whether or not the tournament fights ended up being three rounds. (After all, the network experienced what five round fight hell was like last April on the Nashville CBS show.)

The biggest issue Showtime faces with the public is trust. Does the public trust them not to screw things up? With more and more fly-by-night money mark promoters who have crashed and burned in the MMA field, more and more fans are not only particular about what kind of fights they want to see but also the actual process that is used and implemented. To me, this is a good thing and not a bad thing. (Others might argue this and say that in the end only the fights matter.) For Showtime, they have as much as stake with the upcoming Heavyweight tournament as Strikeforce does. If the tournament collapses and Strikeforce ends up collapsing, they will be just another promotion that died. However, if Showtime fails, it will undoubtedly be a black mark on the network. It will also send a signal to other networks (like HBO) who think that they can put money into a sport and run the show. MMA is not necessarily like boxing.

Showtime, for all of its money and bluster, has to be very careful here with the tournament. As some of our readers have aptly pointed out, not all of the tournament fights are even booked yet. Yes, on paper, there is a bracket that says, “X is fighting Y.” However, until you put pen to paper and get guys in the cage fighting, nothing is signed, sealed, and delivered. There’s a million things that could go right or a million things that could go wrong with what Showtime has booked here with Strikeforce. The Super Six on paper was a great concept and it fell apart. Now the TV network is trying to do the same thing with Strikeforce, but this time no title will be on the line during the tournament. This is why fans felt disappointed after Thursday’s Strikeforce conference call with the media.

If you think that I am rooting for Showtime to fail in the MMA world, think again. I’ve learned many lessons from other past industries in the fight world that TV networks who fail don’t come back for a second go-round. They disappear from the ‘space,’ as Gary Shaw would say. On top of that, other networks that might have considered putting money into the business shy away from doing so and get cold feet.

For the last few months, I’ve wondered whether or not Showtime would get out of the MMA industry if Strikeforce collapsed. If the Heavyweight tournament does not turn out as planned and Strikeforce was to collapse, what would you think about them going back to Gary Shaw to try one more run in MMA?

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 64 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

64 Responses to “Has Showtime been good for MMA?”

  1. Steve4192 says:

    Of course they have been good for MMA. Say what you will about their MMA product, but a whole bunch of fighters have received a whole bunch of exposure (and paychecks) because of them.

  2. Steve4192 says:

    “However, if Showtime fails, it will undoubtedly be a black mark on the network.”


    Regardless of how the tournament works out, Showtime is in no danger of ‘failing’. Their business is booming at a time when the rest of the industry is struggling. They have been adding subscribers at a dizzying pace in recent years while HBO has been declining. MMA has obviously been a contributing factor in those increased subscriptions. No matter what happens in 2011, MMA on Showtime has been nothing but a success.

  3. smoogy says:

    “For the last few months, I’ve wondered whether or not Showtime would get out of the MMA industry if Strikeforce collapsed. If the Heavyweight tournament does not turn out as planned and Strikeforce was to collapse, what would you think about them going back to Gary Shaw to try one more run in MMA?”

    I think it’s a brutal reflection of your attitude toward Strikeforce that you’d even bring that up as a serious alternative.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      I think it’s a brutal reflection of your attitude toward Strikeforce that you’d even bring that up as a serious alternative.

      If you don’t think the network would consider working with Gary again in the future…

      • They work with him right now and will probably work with him forever. What reasoning is there to believe that they will drop Strikeforce for Gary Shaw given how spectacularly he flamed out in the MMA arena?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Look at the ratings.

          Strikeforce is likely costing Showtime in access of $10 Million in 2011. That’s a reasonable estimate.

          $700,000 for the big shows. $300,000 for the smaller shows. That’s $10 Million right there. And they pay for production costs.

          And this is for programs that average less then 300,000 for Challenger shows and 400,000 for Championship shows.

          Is there any show on TV that costs so much for such low ratings? I would be shocked if there was….

          They are likely to either get back in the Gary Shaw MMA Business…. Or just get out of MMA for good.

          mmalogic had an interesting list he wrote up a week ago. And I don’t care what you think about him, because his point was spot on. He listed all of the stations that currently show MMA….

          SpikeTV, ION, MTV2, Versus, HDNet, & Showtime.

          And then he asked which one seems out of place? And obviously Showtime does. They are a “premium” content provider who is putting on the same or lesser quality shows then you can see on 2nd rate television stations.

          Something needs to change. The Grand Prix seems like the final effot to see if they can can change the ratings meter and maybe do something with PPV before they jump off the ship…

        • Steve4192 says:

          “mmalogic had an interesting list”

          Why do you insist on quoting that astroturfer over and over again?

          He has been exposed on multiple occasions as a know-nothing who just throws a bunch of shit up against the wall in the hope that something sticks. His ‘analysis’ regularly gets eviscerated for the flawed garbage that it is.

        • Isaiah says:

          I wonder if 45 IS “mmalogic.” I don’t read the BE forums much, but I am aware that he is generally regarded as a troll, and yet 45 (who has the same agenda) seems to regard him as some kind of guru.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          And yet his point is still valid. Which you bothhave completely ignored. The point is that Showtime is promoting something that only 2nd tier cable stations really touch now.

          And I’m not mmalogic.

        • Is there any show on TV that costs so much for such low ratings? I would be shocked if there was…

          Its not ad supported TV. You have to compare it to other premium channel shows. mmalogic doesn’t do this for a specific reason.

          mmalogic had an interesting list he wrote up a week ago. And I don’t care what you think about him, because his point was spot on. He listed all of the stations that currently show MMA….
          SpikeTV, ION, MTV2, Versus, HDNet, & Showtime.
          And then he asked which one seems out of place?

          The point he made is irrelevant. Showtime and HBO look out of place next to a billion spanish language broadcast TV channels too. When are the premiums cancelling boxing?

          mmalogic doesn’t make any worthwhile points. That guy was going on and on about how ESPN was going to show the WEC once. LOL

        • 45 Huddle says:

          HBO provides the highest level of boxing that nobody else provides.

          Showtime is providing lesser MMA then what you can get on MTV2 half of the time.

          You aren’t even close.

          And even on subscriber based channels…. They still need viewers. HBO has cancelled popular shows due to money concerns. They still need to have viewers for the money it is costing.

          Just because it’s ads versus subscribers…. It’s still the same in that 300,000 to 400,000 a year for $10+ Million is bad…. No matter which way you slice it.

          Even you know that, but you just like to argue your point that is irrational just to feel important.

        • Showtime is providing lesser MMA then what you can get on MTV2 half of the time.

          And they pay less for the Bellator level cards. Of course, SF also does the smart thing by not throwing away money on production and unaired undercards, which is why they don’t lose money like SF does.

          Just because it’s ads versus subscribers…. It’s still the same in that 300,000 to 400,000 a year for $10+ Million is bad…. No matter which way you slice it.

          You aren’t giving me any points of comparison here. What kind of viewership does boxing generate for the money they spend? How about for episodic series? You’re asserting its bad and offering no evidence other than mmalogic’s equally blind and unbacked assertion. If you aren’t willing to produce the numbers to prove your point, I’m wasting my time.

  4. Steve4192 says:

    “I’ve learned many lessons from other past industries in the fight world that TV networks who fail don’t come back for a second go-round.”

    Doesn’t Showtime kind of disprove that theory considering Strikeforce IS their second go-round at MMA?

    “They disappear from the ’space,’ as Gary Shaw would say.”

    Last I checked, Showtime is still in the MMA business, even if their original content provider is not.

    “I’ve wondered whether or not Showtime would get out of the MMA industry if Strikeforce collapsed.”

    Of course not.

    Strikeforce is nothing more to them than a content provider. They are completely replaceable. If Strikeforce goes out of business, Showtime will find someone else to provide MMA content. After all, that is how Strikeforce got the gig.

    Heck, they may already be hedging their bets by getting in bed with M-1. If Strikeforce gets too uppity in the next round of contract negotiations, Showtime might just tell them to pound sand and hand the keys to their MMA programming over to M-1.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      EliteXC only failed money wise. Ratings had potential with EliteXC.

      If Strikeforce fails it could be about money but more so there lack of ability to promote MMA properly compared to the UFC.

      • Steve4192 says:

        Even if that were true … who cares?

        If Strikeforce goes out of business due to their lack of promotion ability or lack of money or whatever, it’s no skin off Showtime’s nose. They will just go out and hire another content provider. They’ve already got a backup plan in place with their new M-1 deal.

        As long as Showtime has subscribers who want live MMA on the network, they will find people to provide that content. The money they spend is a drop in the bucket compared to what they spend on boxing or their original programming. Why would they drop a product that delivers such a solid bang for the buck?

        • The very premise of the original post is absurd on its face. What is the evidence that MMA on Showtime has, to this point, failed? Any? Where is this argument coming from? Is it being made to generate hits?

          Ed. — After all the years they’ve spent promoting Elite XC and now Strikeforce, why isn’t the network with all the resources an industry leader? They’re nowhere near the top.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Does Showtime really have subscrubers who are wanting MMA?

          Their numbers don’t show that. Challenger shows get less then 300,000 typically. And their “Championship” shows typically don’t even get 500,000.

        • After all the years they’ve spent promoting Elite XC and now Strikeforce, why isn’t the network with all the resources an industry leader? They’re nowhere near the top.

          What is the argument here? That they aren’t successful or that they aren’t the industry leader? “All the years” is a span of 4 years, during which time they had a complete switch of favored promoter and matchmaker. I’m not surprised at all that they aren’t the industry leader, but they are certainly the second most important MMA promotion in existence. Its not even close.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          And yet ratings have not budged from the start of EliteXC to now.

          Sure Challenger shows have increased a little bit, but the Championship shows haven’t. All that means is their set fan base is just making sure to watch more of their shows.

          There is no upward progress.

        • There is no upward progress.

          The NFL has been basically static in terms of growth for a decade. So what? That doesn’t mean it is a miserable failure.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          The NFL is a huge success.

          When Strikeforce got on Showtime, all of the talk was about how their numbers were a starting point…

          Trying to compare the NFL to SF? BWAHAHAA

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          When Strikeforce got on Showtime, all of the talk was about how their numbers were a starting point…

          Where? Link?

        • You linked me to Michael Rome doing copypasta of TV ratings. Where is the indication FROM SHOWTIME that they were looking for significantly higher ratings and deemed this a “starting point”? Or from even a mildly reputable information source like Meltzer or Sports Business Journal?

        • edub says:

          1. My bad, Im at work so I can’t see the articles fully. It read on the start of it, along with a few others that, the numbers for that particular show were a good starting point. It was from Bloody Elbow and I do consider them a reputable source.

          2. Whaaaaaat? Dave Melzer credible? The thing is I actually do consider him reputable, but you went on about a 50 comment conversation on this very site about how Melzer didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. So which is it? He’s reputable, or he’s completely full of shit? Or does it just go back and forth to fit your particular argument that day?

        • I’m not arguing against the numbers. But they are just that: Numbers. What 45 Huddle’s arguing here is that those ratings represent a “starting point” and that it has been reported as such elsewhere. There are no links to such statements by Showtime or sources reported to be close to Showtime or to Strikeforce or anyone else. Not even some schlub site like MMABay has run a rumor about Showtime’s dissatisfaction with ratings. About the only person who might have said it is the astroturfer 45 Huddle likes to quote so often.

  5. Is this a serious piece? Strikeforce is putting on shows better than EXC’s prior efforts by a significant margin, and to even favorably compare the shows Strikeforce was doing prior to Showtime versus the ones they do now as if they were on the same planet, much less the same league, would require that you had decided to throw away any shred of objectivity.

    The shows are better, the talent is better, and Showtime is not going to be damaged by some imagined failure of Strikeforce. Hell, there’s not even any real evidence that Strikeforce is in trouble. The Super Six will be hitting the next round of the tourney in May and after that, the discussion that it was a “waste” or a “disaster” may largely subside if not vanish completely.


  6. 45 Huddle says:

    Here is my pre-determined response….


    2 years of Strikeforce on Showtime, and they have basically wasted their talent pool. They haven’t made the fights people want to see and a lot of fighters have been given extremely long wait times between fights purely because Showtime doesn’t run enough shows to put them all on.

    From a pure fights perspective, Showtime has been bad for the fans. They haven’t made the fights we want to see and more importantly, they haven’t really improved the sport. I say that again. THEY HAVE NOT IMPROVED THE SPORT.

    Here is what I mean by that. They have built no stars. Everybody they have pushed has a Pride, UFC, or EliteXC background for the most part. There 5 biggest potential “in-house” stars could have Cung Le, Shane Del Rosario, Daniel Cormier, Fancy Pants Beerbohm, and Tyron Woodley.

    They have completely wasted Fancy Pants & Del Rosario for the time they had them signed. Woodley & Cormier haven’t been given enough hype on their Challenger shows. I know some people will disagree with that, but it’s true. They haven’t done anything to make people feel like they could potentially fight for their belts in the future. They throw the events on with basically zero fanfare and then of course no big hype comes out of those shows for their 2 biggest prospects.

    Strikeforce is a PARASITE on MMA. They take from other organizations without building up their own. The UFC is like a Christmas Tree Farmer who every year devotes 1/0th of their land to the future and later on they have fresh new crop of trees every year to sell. Strikeforce is the one Christmas Tree Farmer that doesn’t even use 1/10th of his new crops every year to grow new trees, and then has to ask his neighboring farms to give him some trees so they can sell them for the current year.

    Strikeforce is not growing anything in their organization. They are only using up. That is not an overall positive for MMA.

    DREAM builds up Aoki. Strikeforce wastes him on 1 fight. No build up. DREAM builds up Zaromskis. Strikeforce wastes him on 1 fight. No build up. EliteXC buils up Cyborg/Carano…. And within 1 fight they completely wasted female MMA with nothing anybody cares about for the future. The list goes on and on.

    Their Grand Prix is built on the work that the UFC and Pride did on their Heavyweight Divisions. Strikeforce only includes “SF Fighters” basically in the alternate bouts.

    Let’s put it this way. If the UFC & Strikeforce could only take new, unknown talent and were both told to see what you could do with that talent pool…. The UFC would build stars…. And Strikeforce would be completely lost.

    That’s the reality of where Strikeforce is. They use up what the UFC, Pride, DREAM, Affliction, & EliteXC have done in the past. They haven’t built on that at all.

    For that, Strikeforce on Showtime has been a big failure. And as more organizations around then continune to fall…. Including DREAM and Bellator…. They won’t have other organizations to borrow talent from anymore. And that has already started to catch up with them as they are hurting for title challengers for Melendez. Diaz only really has Daley which is an interesting fight (Daley was built up by the UFC). Souza has no interesting challengers people really want to see at this point. They are quickly running out of options as their allies continue to fall.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      By comparison….

      Look at the way the UFC built up Machida. He was a nobody in Japan and they built him into a guy who can sell PPV’s.

      Cain Velasquez was built up perfectly.

      Look at the way they are building up Ryan Bader and Jon Jones.

      Or how about Phil Davis?

      Evan Dunham, if he continues to win, is on that path.

      The UFC understands how to take nobodies that the fans never knew about and turn them into something bigger.

      Sure they are not perfect. And they can’t do it for everybody (Frank Edgar anybody??) But they do it so well. By comparison, Strikeforce doesn’t do it at all and actually just uses up athletes in the sport without giving anything back to the sport…. They are negative star makers.

      • Isaiah says:

        What young fighters has SF had on the level of Jones, Bader, Cain (yes, I know they briefly had him), or Davis? You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. And they also lack the exposure necessary to do what you’re suggesting. We’ll see what they do with Overeem (looking good so far) and Woodley. Shields, Lawler (still a prospect when he left the UFC) and Diaz (ditto) were built up to be “big for SF.”

        But you can’t (logically) criticize them for both having a weak roster (relative to the UFC) and for not doing a good job of creating stars. You can say, “Oh they have all this great talent, but they’re wasting it by not marketing properly.” OR “SF’s fighters are all overrated schmucks.” You gotta remember your narrative, friend. As it stands, it sounds like you’re just whining about everything you can and hoping something sticks.

      • Steve4192 says:

        Again … who cares?

        Showtime wants subscribers. Subscriptions have been booming since they started airing MMA programming, and MMA content is dirt cheap to produce relative to their other programming.

        Even if Strikeforce is ‘negative star makers’ and doomed to failure, that doesn’t matter one iota to Showtime as long as MMA continues to deliver new subscribers on the cheap. They’ll just replace Strikeforce with some other promoter and continue to do their thing.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Just because subscriptions have increased since the start of MMA on Showtime, doesn’t mean their is a correlation.

          Bundles and Dexter are likely the 2 main increases.

          MMA continues to get less then 500,000 viewers on their network and is pretty much constant for their “Championshp Shows”. So increased viewers hasn’t really translated into increased viewers for MMA.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          and the question was…. “Has Showtime been good for MMA?”

          And without adding anything to the sport, the answer is no.

          The comment you are responding to is just an added piece to my main point…. Which is currently being held up in moderation. Wait to read that and my comments will make much more sense.

      • And without adding anything to the sport, the answer is no.

        Strikeforce didn’t produce any stars? She-Borg is as much a product of SF as EXC, if not more so. Cung Le is obviously the biggest star they’ve produced. Nick Diaz is easily a bigger star now than he ever was with the UFC.

        • Steve4192 says:

          Gina Carano was also a creation of Showtime MMA and Strikeforce. She started out in Strikeforce, moved to EliteXC on Showtime, and then wound up back in Strikeforce after they snagged the Showtime contract.

          Showtime also contributed to Kimbo’s rise to stardom, which the UFC later capitalized on get the highest ratings in the history of TUF.

        • Yeah, I mean if you move the goalposts to be “Has Showtime helped create any stars?” the obvious answer is yes. Jake Shields was nobody 4 years ago and is fighting GSP in the Skydome in a couple months. It would be completely ridiculous to claim that they’ve done nothing to make stars.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Did you hear his ovation at UFC 121?

          It was almost silent.

          And we don’t have to move the goal posts. Strikeforce uses up more talent then they create. There is no positives going on there. That is why Strikeforce fails.

        • And yet he is fighting GSP in what might be the biggest UFC card in history. Funny how that works out that they did nothing but “use him”.

          I would love to hear who Strikeforce “used up” though that had better opportunities elsewhere. Have any good names?

        • Chuck says:

          Jay Hieron? Then again, they didn’t really use him. Scott Smith, especially when he fought Nick Diaz about two months after that hellacious fight against Benji Radach? Then again, he didn’t really have much of a chance of going back to UFC at the time (doesn’t really have one now). But they did throw him to Cung Le to be used up. he won the fight (was losing said fight though) then was thrown at Le again and was decimated. Then he was decimated against Paul Daley. Matt Lindland getting KAYOED a few times?

          Then again, you can say the same things about Wanderlei Silva, Big Nog, Cro Cop, Yushin Okami, etc. in UFC. There will always be guys chewed up and spat out in the fight game, whether it be on purpose or accident and for various reasons (guys being on “jobber duty” per say, guys getting screwed over time and time again like Okami, etc). It’s nothing new.

        • Jay Hieron got a couple fights, Showtime probably thought he was boring and didn’t want to pay for him, and now he has a Bellator contract. Look, would I have liked to have seen Hieron/Diaz? Yeah. I think he probably beats Diaz. But it didn’t happen. I’m sure someone out there will argue that its not sporting or whatever, but they’re probably the same people that make arguments that the UFC shouldn’t give title shots to their boring fighters too.

          Scott Smith is a guy the UFC was more than willing to use in slambangpow fights and so was EXC. Strikeforce gave him some and he made himself some money in sloppy standup wars. Is that more wrong than hiring a shot Phil Baroni and giving him fights as “a gift”? I’m with you in that I don’t consider them any different in that way. You have to accept that as a fan or you can make an exit and find something safer to watch.

        • Chuck says:

          Oh I do accept that boyo, trust me on that. Been watching combat sports since I was four, not going to change that now. My name isn’t Ivan Trembow, isn’t it? Good on you mentioning Baroni, I forgot about him.

          The fight game is an exploitative business, and yeah as fans we have to accept that to an extent.

        • My name isn’t Ivan Trembow, isn’t it?


        • edub says:

          So Clottey fighting Pacquiao in Cowboys stadium meant he was a “star”?

          No I think you know that’s not a valid argument. Jake Shields is no where near a star, and he probably won’t be one even if he finds a way to beat GSP.

          Reem has the potential to be Showtimes bigeest star. Boxing or MMA.

          Your comment lower about Doomsday/Alves was spot on.

        • Chuck says:

          Carano fought only twice for Strikeforce. Years ago before they were on Showtime (before she was in EXC), and then her last fight against Cris Cyborg. It was EXC that propelled her, not Strikeforce.

          Personally I think Showtime has been great for MMA. Strikeforce has been putting on good shows, miles ahead better than their crap from their early days, and it has created another avenue for fighters who can’t get into UFC or got cut or whatever. It has been far from perfect, but it has been entertaining. I think Strikeforce should create a featherweight and bantamweight divisions, but we’ll see if that happens.

          And Showtime (EXC and SF) having women’s divisions whereas UFC/WEC not having any is a plus too. And Zuffa getting rid of WEC pretty much destroyed the prospects of Zuffa doing women’s MMA.

        • 45 Huddle says:


          Ratings say otherwise.

          In the UFC, a Brock Lesnar PPV gets double their average. That’s a star. So is GSP.

          Showtime Championship cards all get within 100,000 of each other for the most part. The only 2 people who have broken that model to some extent are the freakshows in Carano and Walker. They have been unable to match that with their real talent.

        • So the only stars in MMA are GSP and Brock Lesnar? Is that the point you are making? Then yes, Strikeforce hasn’t made any stars. The UFC didn’t make Brock Lesnar either.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          No, that’s not the point I’m making.

          My point is that if you look at what each organization does on average, their stars are the ones who break out of those averages.

          The UFC has guys who do that. Strikeforce generally does not. They get the same ratings no matter what for the most part.

          I’m not even comparing UFC to SF here. Just each organization on it’s own merit.

        • 100,000-150,0000 households is a big difference. When we talk about a card that sells 500,000 PPVs versus one that sells 350,000, its significant. To say that the difference is not significant because its on Showtime is without merit.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Frank Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 2 selling 340,000…. And then a Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez PPV selling 1 Million. That’s the difference between a fighter and a star. Almost 3 times as much.

          Strikeforce had 7 Championship events for 2010. The middle 5 ranged between 308,000 and 412,000. The best and worst were outliers. Walker show and a Wednesday show.

          So for there typical ratings, they barely change. 100,000 viewers isn’t much at all. Even percentage wise it’s not even close to the scale of difference we see in the UFC.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          And individual sports like boxing and MMA are a star based business. Team sports are to a degree. There is always a need to have an A-Rod or Kobe on your team to get press and sell more tickets.

          But boxing and MMA thrive on this.

          Ratings don’t show much of a percentage variable with Showtime. They have the same fanbase for basically every show. Sure, a snow storm in a region of the country might increase viewers slightly for one event. Or a great football game might decrease viewers for another event.

          But Strikeforce ratings are all within the same ballpark. And the Challenger shows are creeping up in numbers while the Championship shows are not.

          They have not produced any fighter themselves that can get them out of that typical 300,000 to 400,000 range except for Walker…. But he is a freakshow fight…. And the fans don’t stick around for the next event when he is not on it.

          When we see Showtime start having some shows that do 300,000 viewers. And then other ones that do 600,000 frequently…. Then you can say Showtime is doing a decent job within their own MMA or pushing certain fighters good enough that they can greatly increase the fans for certain cards.

          And right now, that is just not happening.

        • I didn’t say there wasn’t a difference between Lesnar and Maynard. However, I think we’d all agree that there’s a difference between Penn and Rampage vs. Maynard and Edgar (or Leben or whomever) in spite of the virtually equivalent difference in buyrates.

          None of that goes to demonstrate how it is that having singular breakout stars is a quantitatively good thing for MMA or that lacking them is bad. Obviously Strikeforce has promoted fights with ones that they themselves were not solely responsible for the public’s knowledge of, just as the WWE piggybacked on the fanbase Lesnar reached out to.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          The fact that they can’t create a star…. Even for Showtime standards…. Shows that Strikeforce is incapable of adding benefit to MMA.

          They take guys in with reasonable fanfare from the UFC or other organizations…. Waste them away…. And don’t build up anything themselves.

          they need to put in as much as they take out of the sport and they just are not doing that. It’s already starting to catch up with them and it’s only going to get worse when DREAM stops running cards….

          MMA needs organizations who add something to the sport. Perhaps an organization that builds prospects and then does something with them.

        • Instead they pay a lot of well known guys a solid amount of money and Showtime seems to be happy with that. Like I’ve said elsewhere in this thread, if they don’t do anything for MMA because they “haven’t built a star” then neither has anyone else in the US ever.

          It also means that EXC, by your definition, “gave something back”, which I guess makes them a better promoter in spite of putting on lousy shows and, by appearances, seeming to try and influence results of fights. LOL

  7. notthface says:

    There’s a lot of people I’m sure who look at Showtime as a positve:

    Number one would be Strikeforce. Without Showtime they’d wouldn’t be making 1/10th what they make now. In fact, they’re the second most successful promotion solely based on the fact that Showtime is paying them more anyone else outside of the UFC makes on MMA. Sure fans may complain about Showtime’s input with them, but part of the reason for that is that they’re ignorant of the model showtime uses. Hint, it’s the same model they use in boxing. Promoter puts up a card and a purse bid and Showtime or HBO will say yay or nay. Same principle with the mma cards.

    Two would be a lot of the fighters. I am sure Robbie Lawler, Dan Henderson, Fabricio Werdum, Babalu, Lindland, Daley etc are all happy that there is another promotion out there offering competitive wages. As well as I’m sure there is a lot of guys on the Challengers cards thankful that there is somewhere they can develop while also getting some sort of national exposure.

    Three would be the fans, who not only have been able to get a lot more fights televised than would be the case if it was only the UFC, but for the cost of one HD PPV ($55), they can get the Diaz vs Cyborg, Fedor vs Bigfoot, Feijao vs Henderson, and probably the Overeem vs Werdum cards plus all the Challenger cards inbetween. Not a bad deal.

  8. Ryan says:

    I feel that alot of people continue to benchmark Strikeforce against the UFC, when in reality Strikeforce is still a promotion very much in it’s infancy. Is Showtime good for MMA? Yes, I feel that it is as with no Showtime there very likely may not be Strikeforce. I have mentioned on here before that Strikeforce and UFC are two different products. I am an MMA fan since the early days of Pride, through to UFC and now also Strikeforce. Gradually through time Strikeforce has been more interesting to watch. I feel that their ‘product’ although still very much in development seems more like a professional approach to how MMA should be presented as a sport. In comparison the UFC just comes across as the same old show they have been doing for the last 5,6,7 years. Maybe this is based on my demographic as I am pushing 30, but I feel there is just an overly corny element to what the UFC does. The longer time goes on the more I realise this. Even friends of mine who are avid MMA fans have the same opinion.
    Strikeforce are continuing to build their stable, put on great fights and announce tournaments like which we are about to witness and I fee that is a testament to their progress. There are always going to be many challenges when competing to be recognized in a marketplace which is dominated by an extremely powerful and monopolizing brand/promotion like the UFC.

  9. JohnnyBlaze says:

    Has Showtime been bad for MMA? No.

  10. Coyote says:

    Showtime is doign good to MMA?

    Yes, they make Strikeforce the home of more fighter’s, who need money to live, who need’s a job, who needs a chance in the pro world.

    Now, some good prospect, are asking chance for Strikeforce too. Not only the UFC. Now with the Jap market dead, i think Strikeforce/Showtime is a great option for that guys.

  11. Fightlinker says:

    Wanted to say ^ this regarding Strikeforce not building fighters up. It’s just helter skelter round robin shit with no rhyme or reason. The fights are good, but i feel bad for the fighters because they can never get any momentum. The most frustrating part of all this is IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.

    Re: Gina Carano and Kimbo, can’t give Strikeforce credit for that, it was Gary Shaw. For all his flaws, he was able to make people pay attention. Meanwhile, Strikeforce can’t even pull their shit together and give proper pushes to Cris Cyborg and Jason Miller. Hell, they completely screwed up the Carano / Cyborg superfight. If you want to talk about hurting MMA, there’s an example of them fumbling the torch pretty bad.

    • Wanted to say ^ this regarding Strikeforce not building fighters up. It’s just helter skelter round robin shit with no rhyme or reason.

      So do you want Strikeforce to spend more time giving guys record builders? What is the point? Is that really what you want to get watching Showtime MMA fights – lame mismatches a la Thiago Alves/Doomsday?

      Meanwhile, Strikeforce can’t even pull their shit together and give proper pushes to Cris Cyborg and Jason Miller.

      Cris Cyborg has no one to fight at 145. This is the problem with women’s MMA – there’s not really anyone competing there and so she, like Carano, is built mostly off the reputation of trashing smaller women. And then to bring up Jason Miller – Seriously? They gave Jason Miller a shot at a world title on network TV and he came up short. Blame Jason Miller for Jason Miller’s “problems”.

  12. Jonathan says:

    The main post of this article is a troll job. Zach realizes that nobody looks at his site when he posts non-controversial topics, so he goes and posts something like this.

    Call it what it is Zach… a play for page views.

    Secondly, 45 Huddle is a major troll. Everyone, including himself can see it.

    To continue to debate him is pointless because, well, he’s an idiot.

    Zach, if you really want page views, set up a radio show where we get these hard core guys together over Skype and go at it. Zach can be a moderator.

  13. TJ says:

    Showtime is absolutely good for MMA. Do they do the best job of promoting it or executing on the shows? No, of course not. But net-net its a good thing.
    Some things that people haven’t mentioned:
    1) It’s exposure, and helps breakdown the idea that MMA = UFC. No one (except for Dana and Zuffa) wins when that connection is perpetuated.
    2) Free fights (ie free for people with that cable tier) and the positioning of Strikeforce alongside ShoBox and high-end Showtime boxing.
    3) The most important one is – they’re giving viewers/fans fights that they want to see without (in some cases) insulting your intelligence. I want to see Khartinov fight. I know who he is, I know what he’s capable of, so please – just put his fight on. Is that good business? Probably not. I’m not the same as the casuals. I don’t need the Zuffa glossy 1-hour “countdown” show that tries to convince me to buy the show. Someone earlier brought up the Aoki-Melendez fight, where Strikeforce made a “mistake” by blowing off Aoki’s heat in one night. Why is that a bad thing? I know who Aoki is and wanted to see him fight Melendez. It’s not bad for me as an MMA fan that I didn’t get a long build, is it? Show me the fight. It’s bad for Showtime that they don’t run their business like Zuffa, but that’s actually the fan’s gain. It really amazes me when people support Zuffa the business instead of UFC the product. UFC the product is often great. Zuffa the business is incredible.
    UFC the product is Maynard-versus-Edgar, 5 rounds of nonstop action.
    Zuffa the business is an hourlong countdown show that tries to con you into buying a card with Frank Mir and Mirko Crocop headlining or Dustin Hazelett versus the latest TUF finalist.
    Strikeforce the business is one thing.
    Showtime the business is another (totally unrelated thing).
    Strikeforce/Showtime the product is another one altogether.
    Zuffa the business is good at producing sales materials that allow it to extract revenue from consumers for UFC, an “MMA” product. Showtime is showing “MMA” fights from Stikeforce, another business. To say one is good for MMA and the other is not seems to make assumptions on what the term “MMA” encompasses.


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