The first mixed martial arts event shown in prime time on a major network was a big hit for KCBS-TV Channel 2.
The Saturday night tape-delayed Elite Extreme Combat event from Newark, N.J., came in with a local overnight rating of 4.7 and a 9 share. The rating peaked at 7.2 the final 15 minutes.
By comparison, a Stanley Cup final hockey game shown earlier in the evening on KNBC-TV Channel 4 averaged just a 1.3 local rating and a 3 share.
The MMA national overnight rating, which is an average for the nation’s 54 largest markets, was a 2.7 with a 5 share.
The main event for the five-card night featured Kimbo Slice, a former street brawler from Miami whose real name is Kevin Ferguson, against James “The Colossus” Thompson of England. Slice won by technical knockout. The fight was stopped 38 seconds into the third round with a dazed Thompson bleeding from the ear after taking a few explosive punches to the head.
Jared Shaw, vice president of fighter relations for EliteXC, said he was extremely pleased with the overnight viewership numbers in L.A. Three other fights are scheduled to be shown on CBS later this year.
“The rating is phenomenal,” he said. “With each big city, the numbers should be very similar.”
The event was scheduled to run from 9 to 11 p.m., but ran about 45 minutes longer, causing the KCBS local news to be delayed and shortened in length by about 20 minutes.
In some parts of the country, “CBS EliteXC Saturday Night Fights” was delayed and, in one case, not shown at all.
In the Billings, Mont., area and parts of central Ohio, some viewers tuned in but found a prescheduled Children’s Miracle Network telethon instead. Most of those CBS affiliates chose to show the MMA event at a later hour.
That wasn’t the case in Greensboro, N.C., where WFMY gave rights to the event to a low-wattage network 25 miles away in Reidsville, according to program director David Briscoe. Instead, the CBS affiliate televised a 1992 made-for-TV movie called “Getting Up and Going Home,” which stars Tom Skerritt as a divorced attorney who copes with his mid-life crisis by having multiple affairs.
In an earlier statement sent to greensborosports.com, Briscoe wrote: “We have concern for the content in CBS’ EliteXC.”