The early ratings are in for CBS' Saturday night MMA show, and although the numbers aren't as good as the network did last year with Kimbo Slice, CBS executive Kelly Kahl tells FanHouse he's encouraged that CBS improved on its usual Saturday night ratings among the coveted young male demographic.

Now the question is whether MMA will improve to CBS in 2010. Kahl said it's too soon to say about that, but that a significant improvement in the targeted demographic means CBS accomplished its first goal. Kahl noted that MMA on CBS beat college football on ABC in the demographic.

The Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers fight started at 11:01 p.m. in the Eastern and Pacific time zones, which means it will not be counted in prime time ratings and those numbers aren't in yet. But from the numbers that are already in, TV By The Numbers reports that Strikeforce averaged 3.79 million viewers and a 1.7/6 rating share with adults 18-49. CBS beat ABC, NBC and Fox during the the 10 PM hour with adults 18-49, and it surely did even better beginning at the 11 PM hour, because that's when Fedor vs. Rogers started.

CBS, Strikeforce and some MMA enthusiasts will no doubt spin those numbers as encouraging, while other networks, the UFC and those who dislike the idea of MMA on network television will no doubt spin those numbers as lousy. My own feeling is that the numbers ought to be good enough to get MMA back on network television, but that they'll need to do a better job of marketing the fighters to people who have never watched MMA before if they're going to find long-term success on network TV.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.