Strikeforce President Scott Coker was a guest today on Bloomberg Television's "InsideTrack" with host Michele Steele. Coker spoke about a number of subjects in the relatively short interview, but the key piece that stuck out was his remark that Strikeforce will definitively enter the pay-per-view market before the fall of 2011.
As hardcore mixed martial arts fans understand and the uninitiated don't, the pay-per-view market for MMA is a graveyard of promoters who took financial baths trying to push their events forward without being cognizant of market realities. As the late Jay Larkin remarked, MMA is the UFC show. Everyone else simply lives in it. Excluding World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), who was owned by UFC parent comapny Zuffa, and perhaps the second Affliction show, no other MMA organization has cleared 100,000 ppv buys - an abysmally low figure. Certainly none have cleared 300,000, which is generally a number lower tiered UFC events pull in.
Can Strikeforce make it in the pay-per-view market? At this juncture, no. Based on television ratings, exposure, brand recognition and a roster of recognizable, financially-bankable fighter names (e.g. Fedor Emelianenko) and other less precise but equally valuable data, e.g. traffic data, Strikeforce does not have the capability to collect sufficient buys.
A couple of factors could change the equation. Fedor would have to be on the card, first and foremost. He is Strikeforce's most recognizable active star. Provided Gina Carano is available, she could make a hefty contribution to any pay-per-view card. But most importantly: the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix would have to elevate the organization beyond it's current limits. Alistair Overeem is not a ratings or pay-per-view commodity. The tournament would have to greatly elevate his status before he could return on investment properly.
That's not impossible, but without knowing what this tournament will do for Coker's organization, predicting ppv success for Strikeforce is profoundly premature.