Over at the Heavy web site, Jonathan Snowden has an interview posted with Scott Coker after Saturday’s night show in Chicago. For all intents and purposes, I thought Coker did a good job with the show. Obviously the scheduling situation with the Mark Miller fight being canceled at the last minute on the undercard is a bad move on their part, but it’s the same type of thing that happened to Jay Hieron on the August show where he wasn’t on TV and ended up losing sponsorship money. Does the heat go on Strikeforce or should it go on CBS & Showtime? Probably the latter.
I wrote an article for MMA Memories talking about the problems that Strikeforce faces by being under the CBS/Showtime business model. There was a reason last week why I transcribed the interview Kelly Kahl did with Fanhouse. He talks a big game in terms of what CBS has done for Strikeforce in terms of promotion and either he’s a total spinner or he’s not looking at the ways to promote Strikeforce from multiple angles. Having 10-seconds ads featuring Choi Hong-Man on top of Fedor is not the way to promote him. I don’t care if you ‘flood the zone’ on NFL or SEC football games or not, that’s not effective advertising. When the whole goal is to try to promote new stars, CBS did the bare minimum on Saturday - no interviews from the fighters, a poor ad campaign leading up to the event, and no sense of either CBS or Showtime doing episodic programming with Strikeforce in the future.
If you want to be event-driven only in terms of promotion, that’s fine, UFC is that way, but Spike TV invests countless hours each week to promote the brand. Roger Goodell likes to say that he protects “the shield” (the NFL logo)… well, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta do a pretty good job of protecting the UFC brand. Scott Coker, at this point, finds himself at the mercy of what Showtime and CBS want to do. Sure, Kelly Kahl and company can say that Scott is the head matchmaker and that they defer to him on many decisions, but ultimately Showtime and CBS runs the show and not Strikeforce. As the ratings information comes in and we see how things play out both politically and in a business sense, you get the feeling that UFC made the right decision in not immediately giving up control in exchange for exposure on CBS.