Dear EliteXC: Where’s the Marketing?


Kimbo Slice. Photo by Esther Lin/EliteXC.

It’s exactly one month until the biggest event in EliteXC’s history and as of right now, one month until the day where EliteXC can tell itself that it was the beginning of the end.

Let’s look at the facts: Kimbo Slice will take on Ken Shamrock on network television on October 4. The star power of the two will draw millions and millions of viewers to watch professional mixed martial arts, potentially further pushing the sport to mainstream acceptance.

On top of that, EliteXC could easily save themselves from further financial jeopardy by garnering a good rating. CBS officials would likely have no problem funding the needed money EliteXC is looking for to help them survive through the end of the year.

So why aren’t they doing anything to promote it?

EliteXC has been in this situation before. When CBS asked Gary Shaw to throw together an event less than a month after a successful network television debut on Memorial Day Weekend, Shaw said that he wasn’t ready. It turned out he was right. EliteXC was forced to go without their two biggest draws in Slice and Gina Carano, and it caused them to falter.

Both sides expected a dip in the ratings because of their exclusion. It also happened to translate into a lack of effort in promoting the event. Advertisements and media coverage were pretty much non-existent to say the least. The results were eye-opening. The show only pulled a mere 2.62 million viewers and did a 1.9 rating. In the network television world, that’s downright pathetic.

The UFC let EliteXC know it too. A replay of May’s UFC 84 outdrew “Unfinished Business” in just about every category important to the demographics MMA promotions are attempting to reach. Turns out that Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith just couldn’t cut it.

To make things worse, EliteXC couldn’t even promote an event in the backyard of one of it’s biggest stars. Despite high expectations, Nick Diaz‘s hometown of Stockton, California provided just 8,000 spectators, and only 3,701 actually paid for their tickets.

All of it was a mistake that EliteXC does not want to repeat.

EliteXC’s debut show on CBS was much better off from the start. Why? Because they actually marketed the event. Advertisements for the show started during March Madness, more than two months before the event was even happening. Yet here we are one month away from Slice’s biggest test to date and the only spots promoting the event can be found online.

Even if CBS were to start airing commercials tomorrow, EliteXC still has obstacles to overcome. It’s 30 days before the event and the fight card isn’t even finalized. That’s expectant of smaller organizations with heavy turnover rates, not a major promotion that is about to put together a show for the entire world to see.

Bringing Kimbo Slice back to his home state of Florida was a good move. The arena should easily sell out then, right? I mean the crowd for Slice vs. Tank Abbott in February was up on their feet for just about the entire night.

Not necessarily. All signs currently indicate that a large number of tickets are still available for the event. Plus, EliteXC officials expecting a late push should also take note that the University of Miami plays Florida State at Dolphins Stadium that same night. (Thanks Zach)

According to EliteXC’s recent SEC filings, the organization only has enough funds to last until the end of the year without outside help. So why aren’t they going balls to the wall in trying to make this show their most successful to date? A lack of money? A lack of motivation? It’s hard to say.

Before I even started writing this, I asked myself, why it is that every time that write a piece on EliteXC, it turns out to be negative? I pinpointed it to failed potential.

With a network television contract, private funding, two cable television deals, and a slew of other resources, they had a legitimate chance to show the MMA world that the sport is bigger than the UFC. That the sport has the ability to become something other than just one organization ruling over everyone else. And so far, they’ve failed.

They still have one month to save themselves from their imminent demise. Can they do it? There’s potential…

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