Kimbo Slice and 'M.M.A.' Help CBS Get Ratings Bump

On Saturday night, mixed martial arts (MMA, as it’s called by those in the know) made its prime-time broadcast television debut. CBS kicked off "EliteXC Saturday Night" by broadcasting what was called the "Elite Extreme Combat" event in Newark, N.J., including a featured showdown between former Miami street fighter (and YouTube sensation) Kimbo Slice and British heavyweight James Thompson.

Along the way, Mr. Slice scored a third-round TKO over his bloodied opponent, and CBS scored a big boost in its ratings among young male viewers.

TV Week reports that "Fights" increased CBS average ratings among men 18-34 by 271 percent on Saturday.

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"Fights" scored a 1.9 rating/6 share in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic, according to preliminary Nielsen numbers. In men 18-34, the battles did a 2.6/10, 271% better than CBS’ demo average in that time period (9-11 p.m.) during the entire 2007-08 season.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the CBS affiliate in L.A. drew much better ratings with its time-delayed broadcast of the MMA battles than the L.A. NBC affiliate did with its broadcast of the NHL Stanley Cup finals earlier in the evening.

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Jared Shaw, vice president of fighter relations for EliteXC, said he was extremely pleased with the overnight viewership numbers in L.A. Three other fights are scheduled to be shown on CBS later this year.

"The rating is phenomenal," he said. "With each big city, the numbers should be very similar."