(Praying works better if you bow your head and close your eyes, Scott)
According to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, his promotion has not been in touch with broadcast partner CBS since the post-fight brawl that occurred at the tail end of the Strikeforce: Nashville event April 17.
Now, I’m no business expert, but I have some management and PR experience and one thing I’m pretty sure that is a paramount component to every successful business relationship is open two-way communication. If it were me, I would have been on the phone with CBS that Monday to set up a debriefing to discuss the incident, what went wrong and how we should move forward.
Instead, it seems that Strikeforce is taking the don’t ask don’t tell, head in the sand technique, which likely won’t end well as time passes and CBS starts to wonder what the hell is going on.
In an interview with MMAJunkie, Coker said that he isn’t concerned that the growing amount of time the two sides remain silent is any indication that CBS likely won’t pick up the option to broadcast more Strikeforce events.
"It’s something that we haven’t had a conversation with them yet, but probably after this St. Louis fight we’ll sit down with them and have that conversation. This is the same course as the last show. After the Fedor Emelianenko fight in November, it wasn’t like we had our April date right afterward. They have to go back and analyze and know all the data and the sales, and then we have a meeting. But our meeting for the April fight wasn’t until January, I believe. This is the same process we went through last time. This is a normal course of business. Hopefully, we’ll have a great fall date and we’ll have some more great fights on CBS."
Let me get this straight; It’s normal for a business partner to avoid the other for a month or so after an embarrassing incident that took place (that required a large amount of crisis control that never happened), effectively driving a wedge between the two sides? I’d be interested to hear what other business owners have to say about this claim.
Regardless of whether or not the two sides can come to terms to have future events on CBS, the network needs to shoulder some of the blame. Someone from CBS made the decision to pan out on the fracas to give viewers a bird’s eye view of Team Cesar Gracie laying a beating on Jason Miller, rather than going to commercial. A simple two-minute tape delay would have prevented the masses from knowing the incident even took place until they read second and third hand accounts about it on MMA news sites and message boards the following day. Even then, the casual fan or curious virgin MMA viewer that watched the CBS show would not likely have heard about the brawl, except as a footnote on a mainstream sports site or in a newspaper’s sports section.
Hopefully, CBS realizes their own part in broadcasting the incident and they can move forward. MMA on network television is a good thing, as long as it isn’t presented like it’s Saturday Night’s Main Event. Strikeforce’s Showtime deal is only a little over one year old and their events have only been on CBS since last April. With so much potential, it would be a shame if they followed the same doomed path as their predecessor, EliteXC.
Coker’s focus on Strikeforce’s other broadcast outlet seems to belie his feigned confidence that CBS could very well host another show sometime down the road.
"To have a relationship with Showtime and CBS, and to do as many fights as we do on Showtime, think about the value MMA fans are getting with Showtime. They can watch not only great MMA, but look at the boxing Showtime has had and the great original programming they have. It’s a great value, and a guy can just sit at home and watch MMA on Showtime for free. It’s a great value to MMA fans, and it’s a privilege and an honor for us to be able to host these fights. If it wasn’t for Showtime, we would not be doing the quality of fights that we’re putting together today. (As for CBS), it remains to be seen. I think that it’s going to be a situation where it’s really up to CBS. We’re hopeful that it will happen again."
Keep saying your prayers, Scott. I hope they’re answered.