It wasn't just the lack of Kimbo Slice or Gina Carano that accounted for the 40% drop in ratings from the first EliteXC event to the second. There were other factors at play that aren't getting enough coverage. Jordan Breen opines:
Even if the impetus for slapping the July card together was advertisers, who didn't want to wait until October to cash in on their investment, promotion for the event itself was weak. Google trends, search tags and all the online detectors of pre-event heat were lacking. I talked to some fans and journalists from all over, trying to get a sense of the overall push for the event had been like in their area. While some major market dwellers in New York and Los Angeles said they had been hit with commercials, billboards and the like, those outside of the US's major metropolises had seen virtually nothing, although a few fans told me that they had seen a curious amount of commercials during the Price is Right. Unfortunately for CBS and EliteXC, people outside NYC and LA have television sets (a lot of them, in fact), and the sorts who dote on Bob Barker and Drew Carey are not a demographic priority.
And even though we're amidst a vacancy of popular stick and ball sports, boxing doesn't have a season. However, because major fights are generally spread out, that should not be a difficult obstacle to bypass. Still, CBS and Pro Elite put this card head-to-head with the biggest boxing bout of the year, with Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto meeting in a classic Mexico vs. Puerto Rico clash.
Even though their product was free, general combat sports fans and probably some more MMA-preferrable fans were willing to pony up 50 bones for what turned out to be an absolute classic boxing fight. Furthermore, bars know what sells, and it's certainly not programming content that people could sit on their couch and watch for free.
Worse yet, while the Mexican and Puerto Rican anthems were belted out while the live east coast telecast of “Saturday Night Fights” went off the air, EliteXC started up on the west coast (see: major boxing hotbed and where the Mexican Margarito supporters are) amidst Margarito and Cotto already smashing one another, meaning pacific time viewers had already left to their favorite watering hole, or would've sooner died than changed their channel at home. EliteXC will never be able to escape the fact that Spike TV and Zuffa can do damage to their product at the drop of the hat with marathon replays of “Ultimate Knockouts” compilations. However, with no other summer boxing blockbusters in sight, CBS and EliteXC just had to go head-to-head with an instant pantheon-level prizefight?
I also agree with Breen that the current ratings aren't ringing the death knell for EliteXC. The truth of the matter is that CBS and ProElite did make good on their promise to simplify, improve and make more efficient this event's broadcast. On that level, it was a massive improvement. If they can carry that professionalism over to October's show - one where presumably more advertising and star power will draw more viewers - then EliteXC has a real shot at redemption.
But for now, let's not forget that there are simple explanations for this show's mediocre pull that aren't isolated to what went on in the cage in Stockton on Saturday.