Kelly Kahl, Senior Executive Vice President for CBS Primetime Television, has revealed preliminary ratings for EliteXC's "Heat," which took place Saturday night in Sunrise, Fla.
The ratings exclude the final 20 minutes of the broadcast, which would presumably be the most-watched portion of the evening. Final ratings for the event will not be available until Tuesday.
According to Kahl 4.3 million people tuned into the broadcast throughout the course of the evening.
Amongst male viewers in the 18-34 and 18-49 year old age brackets, "Heat" took first place with a 2.5 rating. It also took first place in the adults (men and women) 18-34 category with a 1.8 rating. In the adults 18-49 category, it tied with ABC's broadcast of college football with 1.8 rating.
The ratings for men and women in the 18-34 and 18-49 categories were down 11 percent and four percent, respectively, from EliteXC's CBS debut in May, the last card to feature stars Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano.
Kahl stressed the ratings were a good sign of improvement after a lackluster showing at the second CBS-televised EliteXC card in July, particularly impressive considering the college football and baseball playoffs they aired against.
"I think we've clearly bounced back and we're very happy," he said.
The executive also addressed the many surprises of the evening, wanted and unwanted.
"In terms of [Ken] Shamrock, that was a situation really out of our control," Kahl continued. "We did what a professional organization would do. We got another quality fighter in the ring with Kimbo. We didn't want to disappoint the audiences on television or in the arena. And we obviously put a good fighter in there. In terms of the surprising outcome, that's just the fight game. Kimbo was a man for stepping up and taking the fight, and [Seth] Petruzelli was a stud for taking it too. At the end of the day, we promised Kimbo Slice and we delivered Kimbo Slice."
Kahl said there was no reason CBS wouldn't broadcast a fourth EliteXC show.
"Our contract calls for four shows. We've said all along we're planning to do four shows, and there's nothing in these numbers that would suggest we won't."
In the hours after the show, critics were already proclaiming EliteXC's doom. Kahl says the promotion's detractors do not see the big picture.
"EliteXC is bigger than Kimbo Slice," he said. "We've always anticipated that Kimbo Slice could take a loss someday. All MMA fighters do. They don't have a grasp of the things that might be going on right now."
Though it did not eclipse EliteXC's CBS debut, Kahl is confident that the company's plans to sign more talent, including former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, will make yesterday's ratings more commonplace.
"It's looking like the night is going to tuck into slightly behind the May card, but I think it's hopefully more representative of the cards that we would do moving forward. Recognizing that there was a lot of hype around the first one, that the second was kind of an anomaly, because we did it in July when we weren't able to support it as well with our CBS promotion. So I like to think this is the number we can look at going forward, which is a very solid, very sustainable number."