On November 7, Strikeforce will present the most important show in the history of the promotion, and its success hinges on whether or not a few hundred thousand viewers decide that watching a guy hyped as the greatest fighter in the world is worth their time on Saturday night.
Though they will try to lower expectations publicly, CBS is looking for fairly strong numbers. They know it won't hit Kimbo Slice levels, but they are hoping to do significantly better than the July 2008 show featuring Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith. Anything below four million total viewers would be a disappointment for CBS.
Nobody really knows what Fedor will draw. His pay per view record is decidedly mixed. Affliction's buyrates were not strong enough to keep the promotion afloat, but they were the best numbers ever done outside of the UFC. It's also important to note that it is much easier to convince people to watch a new fighter for the first time on free TV than it is to convince them to pay to see a guy they've never seen before. There may be a curiosity factor that drives ratings up.
When EliteXC was successful on television, they had two main events pulling in viewers. Gina Carano set record with the viewership increases she drew, and then Kimbo followed up by breaking records of his own. On this show, there is only one fight with the prospect to be a really strong draw.
From my perspective, anything below a 2.0 is a big disappointment. Something in the mid-2's would be a strong showing, and a number above a 3.0 would be an unqualified success. If they bring in a number above a 2.5, expect CBS to order a number of additional shows.