the promotional value the TV networks bring may be the MOST IMPORTANT factor in a promotion's success. this is true whether we're talking UFC & SpikeTV, Strikeforce & CBS/Sho, and the WEC & VS.
when i was the marketing manager at EliteXC it always troubled me that CBS (aside from the event that followed March Madness) did a bare minumum job of promoting the brand & events. EliteXC's leadership was mostly to blame for its failure, but CBS also contributed by failing to actively promote the brand. and now it kinda looks like they're giving Strikeforce the same red-headed stepchild treatment. its not enough just to broadcast the live event...it has to be heavily promoted to the viewers first, especially with the UFC's monopoly standing in the sport. and 2-3 week out promos just dont cut it...Fedor v Rogers was announced a while ago, so there's been ample time to kickstart the campaign to make it a huge success.
SpikeTV promotes the UFC at every break. CBS cant do the same volume, but - aside from a regular promo schedule - there should at least be more of a concerted effort to cross promote, especially with CBS' sports, late night talk, and morning news programs. there's also available program inventory on the weekends that could be used for a countdown show. and there's also a complete lack of any viral campaign, which is inexcusable given the nature of the fanbase.
The most important factors in a promotion's success are actually revenue generation and the ability to put on fights that the general public wants to see. EliteXC failed spectacularly on both fronts, which is why the company no longer exists. Many former EliteXC employees remain bitter at CBS for pulling out of plans to buy them out, so it's no surprise to see CBS getting the blame just under a year after the company collapsed.
No amount of promotion by CBS could change the math that doomed EliteXC. They were losing millions of dollars with no meaningful avenue to generate revenue. Better ratings wouldn't change the fact that you can't lose tens of millions of dollars in an economy where nobody is lending and hope to survive.
CBS actually did a very good job promoting EliteXC. They helped make Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano national stars, and contributed to media onslaughts before the first and third EliteXC shows that far surpassed what the UFC gets on a regular basis. What did the people at EliteXC expect? They signed a horrible deal just to get on CBS, and then claimed to be shocked when the same broadcast network that signed them to a joke of a deal didn't treat them like CSI. It's CBS's fault that EliteXC's talent pool was so shallow that they had to headline their second network show with Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith?
It's way too early to evaluate CBS's promotion of Strikeforce. Fight promotion involves convincing fans that they want to see two people fight, and the problem for Strikeforce is most people don't know Fedor. And no ad campaign is going to make much of a difference; the only way to really make him a star is to get him on national TV and let him do his thing. The odds are against him being a huge ratings star, but his apologists are already lining up to blame any potential ratings failure on CBS.