Ratings are in for Strikeforce: Miami, and they're very good. According to MMA Junkie, "Strikeforce: Miami" drew 517,000 viewers, just below the record set by Gina Carano in August. Carano and Cyborg brought in 576,000 viewers, which remains the all-time record for an MMA show on Showtime:
Compared to Strikeforce's most recent event, "Strikeforce: Evolution" in December, ratings for "Miami" were up sharply. The previous event...drew just 341,000 viewers.
Strikeforce: Miami earned an additional 176,000 viewers for a ratings increase of 51.6%...
A replay of UFC: 107 drew 2.2 million viewers.
This is a strong showing for Strikeforce, but not a surprising one. Given the small viewership numbers on Showtime, it did not take a lot of curious football fans to significantly bump up their numbers. Would those fans tune in again to see Walker? Is it worth doing a single fight like that to get new fans to check out the rest of the show? It's easy to bash Strikeforce for doing this, but they are in the early stages of building a company and a brand. These are the kinds of tactics that companies looking to challenge market leaders often use.
Although the UFC show had more overall viewers, this should not be viewed as a win for the UFC. Far fewer homes have access to Showtime than Spike; it's more complicated than just directly comparing numbers. However, if that 2.2 million number is the average audience for the UFC replay, that is a very big number for a replay and an encouraging sign for the UFC. It looks like both companies did well Saturday night.
These ratings will obviously encourage Strikeforce not only to bring Walker back but to also look further into cross promotion with athletes from other sports. They need to be careful about going too far, because most of those new fans are unlikely to be converted, and they could end up alienating their base in the process of trying to expand their base. It's always a careful balance for growing promotions, and it's up to Scott Coker to find that appropriate balance.