Branding the World of Sports

Kimbo Slice attracts viewers for CBS

Posted by ZA on June 2, 2008

The debut of EliteXC Saturday Night Fights on CBS drew a 2.7 national overnight rating for the network.  The big draw for the evening was the match featuring internet sensation, and recent ESPN The Mag cover boy, Kevin Ferguson (aka: Kimbo Slice) versus James “The Colossus” Thompson.  Slice has gained fast fame from the posts of his street fights that are all over the internet.  The 2.7 rating was slightly higher than the 2.6 rating NBC had on their broadcast of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Kimbo Slice debuted MMA on newtork TV
Can Kimbo Slice and MMA become a mainstay for CBS?
(Photo courtesy:

I am not a fan of MMA, but I DVR’d the event so I could see what all of the hype was about.  My impression is this won’t be something that CBS sticks with for the long-term; they scored on their first broadcast because it was the first time MMA was on network TV and they had the Kimbo on the card.  Slice was the reason that myself and many others tuned in because he has been a hot topic recently and I just finished reading the profile of him in ESPN Magazine.  Without Slice on the card CBS will not get those same ratings.  I fast forwarded through the majority of the broadcast to just watch the Kimbo Slice match, and even that match was fairly boring.

I think CBS is going to have to rethink whether they want MMA to be part of their regular prime time broadcasting.  The sport is very violent, more so than boxing in my opinion, so CBS is going to take some heat for the content they are broadcasting.  The site of Thompson’s mangled ear is not something I want to see again.  The show was also way too long, it took over 2 hours to get to the main event, and it was not executed well in CBS’s maiden broadcast.

Overall, the event ranks as a success for CBS and MMA.  But the question now is whether it was a one-hit wonder or the partnership of CBS and MMA can continue to be profitable.  I’m betting against it.

Did you watch?  Do you think MMA has a future on network primetime TV?

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