Strikeforce goes out with a whimper when it comes to ratings

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The final Strikeforce show after a three-year run on Showtime tied for the lowest rated of the major Saturday night shows and dropped 43 percent in ratings from the previous event.

The final Strikeforce show on Showtime went out with a whimper, tying the lowest rating for a Saturday night major MMA show in Showtime's six years of broadcasting the sport.

Saturday night's show was headlined by Nate Marquardt vs. Tarec Saffiedine for the Strikeforce welterweight title, but was really promoted around being the end of an era. However, there was little fan interest in that nostalgia and the event did a 0.82 rating and 310,000 viewers among Showtime subscribers.

It should be noted that the total audience watching the show was actually considerably larger. Showtime was having a free preview weekend, meaning the show was actually available in as many as triple the usual number of homes. But Neilsen only measures the homes that normally get the station during those weekends when compiling ratings.

From a rating standpoint, the only major Saturday night show on the network that did a number in that ballpark was the September 10, 2011, show from Cincinnati. That was a fairly loaded show with the semifinals of the heavyweight Grand Prix with Josh Barnett vs. Sergei Kharitonov and Daniel Cormier vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, plus Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza vs. Luke Rockhold for the middleweight title and King Mo Lawal vs. Roger Gracie. Shockingly, that combination did an identical 0.82 rating, with 274,000 viewers.

The rating was only slightly better than most of the Challengers shows, low-budget Friday night shows with little or no name talent - and with very little promotion - that usually ranged from 0.5 to 0.75 ratings, and once hit the 1.0 barrier. Even though this event had promotion behind it as a farewell show and featured name fighters on the main card including Marquardt, Cormier, Barnett, Gegard Mousasi and Souza, perhaps the lame duck status and long gap between shows led to the audience already losing interest in the brand.

The ratings were down 43 percent and total viewing audience down 41 percent from the previous Strikeforce card on Aug. 18, which featured no name fighters outside of a Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman main event. That fight only lasted one minute vs. the 25-minute main event on this show. As a general rule, the longer the main event, the better the rating will be due to more time to build the audience.

Showtime started airing MMA in 2007, partnering with the now-defunct Elite XC promotion. After that group folded and its assets were purchased by Strikeforce, they started running regularly on the network in 2009. Of the 18 major Saturday night events, the average rating was a 1.36, peaking with the 2.17 rating of the August 15, 2009, show, headlined by Gina Carano vs. Cris "Cyborg" Santos.

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