Inside Pulse: Raw rating drops, Vince McMahon and John Cena to appear on Raw.
Blair: Well, that’s Interinactivity for this week written then.
Welcome to “Interinactivity”. Last week, I laid out some booking ideas to help some “stars” who are somewhat in limbo right now, and a couple weeks ago, I covered some comments regarding John Cena, CM Punk and The Rock’s positions in the WWE Superstar… hierarchy? (Sure, that’ll work.) This week, it’s time to face facts. My fun but admittedly un-adoptable ideas aside, the point from both those columns is that WWE has the time – now more than ever – to start doing some different stuff.
I haven’t watched a lot of wrestling over my break, or since I got back. I’ve had some episodes of Raw on in the background, or on mute at times, but I haven’t really paid that much attention. Obviously, Raw 1000 was the exception, as that was the one big show during that time. The actual Raw 1000 show itself wasn’t great, but it did hold up, especially since we knew most of the people appearing on that show would not be regular fixtures. But it certainly didn’t lay much groundwork in terms of how they would be filling 3 hours on a regular basis.
When WWE announced they were going 3 hours, everyone questioned how they could possibly fill that time. While I don’t have that much faith in WWE, even I didn’t think that they’d increase their show by over 30% without a detailed plan of how to fill that time. They couldn’t fill 2 hours as it was. So here’s another example for anyone who thinks that I believe I’m always right – I was never in the ballpark on that one. Their plan appears to have been even more replays than they had before, and Tout-tards.
What I don’t understand it somehow believing that WWE is in some sort of trouble because of this third hour, or a ratings drop, which is what happened last week.
Justin Czerwonka: Vince McMahon is appearing on RAW this Monday? That can mean only one thing: ratings are down, down, down. Vince has tried to cut down on his presence on TV in recent years. It is a smart move on his part. There is not a lot left to do with his character, so his appearance should be limited and sporadic. But almost all of Vince McMahon’s appearance in recent years has been in response to a low rating on RAW the week before. So essentially, you could call Vince McMahon “Mr. Panic.” CB: Tonight on another laborious three-plus hour episide of WWE Monday Night Raw, there are two key WWE figures making appearances that signal the pushing of the panic button over at Titan Towers due to poor TV ratings last week from the flagship show: 1. Vince McMahon will be on Raw tonight to presumably do one of his “state of the WWE” addresses while interacting with the regular roster to give them some new life (or to fire them, which could be the case for embattled Raw General Manager AJ Lee); and 2. John Cena — who is recovering from elbow surgery — has VOWED to be back on Raw this week so he can talk things out with the WWE Universe, because God forbid the show ever goes on without him longer than one week.
Blair: John Cena is on RAW almost every week. Vince McMahon is AT RAW every single week. It’s no skin off his back to grab a microphone to head out there and ham it up for a while. It’s not like they don’t have time to do it. Vince McMahon is not Mr. Panic. They are not hitting the panic button. There is no Mr. Panic, and there is no panic button.
CB: I don’t know, I just don’t see what kind of instant shakeup that Vince can pull out of his arse tonight to right this sinking Titanic-sized ship known as Raw, unless he cuts his losses right now and chops an hour off the block while also refocusing the entire show somehow, some way.
Blair: Nielsen ratings become less relevant every year that passes. But just in case you do place an exaggerated performance on those numbers…
Cable Network TV – United States – Week Of Sept 24, 2012 http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/top10s/television.html
|1||NFL REGULAR SEASON L (GREEN BAY/SEATTLE)||ESPN||10.3||16,167|
|2||NFL REGULAR SEASON GAME (2012 – BROWNS VS. RAVENS)||NFLN||5.2||8,053|
|4||MAJOR CRIMES (107 SHAME GAME, THE)||TNT||3.0||4,302|
|5||PRE-KICK (PRE-KICK 12 CLE VS. BAL)||NFLN||2.8||4,225|
|6||REAL HSWIVES OF NJ(S) (421 REUNION PT.1)||BRVO||2.6||3,493|
|7||WWE ENTERTAINMENT (WWE RAW)||USA||2.5||3,990|
|8||WWE ENTERTAINMENT (WWE RAW)||USA||2.4||3,769|
|9||SONS OF ANARCHY (LAYING PIPE)||FX||2.4||3,802|
|10||THE OREILLY FACTOR||FOXNC||2.3||3,471|
So, this is the week before the RATINGS DROP OF DOOM, as those were the last Top 10 stats available, but take a look anyway. Even after the drop, WWE would still be pretty damn highly rated for a cable show, and would still be the highest-rated show that USA has.
Jesus, if it wasn’t for football, WWE would almost be at the top of the Cable Network TV charts. That boggles my mind. That’s almost as sad as it is that Real Housewives and Bill O’Reilly are on there.
Justin Czerwonka: But while Vince will try to tell you that everything is okay in the WWE, what he won’t tell you about is the numerous problems the WWE is facing right now. Number 1 is the continual drop in ratings for RAW. Last week, RAW received a 2.5 rating, the lowest non-holiday rating in a very long time. The ratings haven’t gone up on RAW in quite some time. And the third hour of the show, the 10-11 time slot, has at times been the lowest rated hour on the show. By starting the show at 8, the WWE is now wearing out a lot of their viewers by 10 p.m. And can you blame them? How many good TV shows can keep viewers for 3 hours? Wrestling is not programmed to go three hours on a weekly basis, especially if you have been booking it the way the WWE has. But Vince won’t let you know that moving to 3 hours was a bad idea, no matter how much he and the executives at USA think it is a good idea.
Blair: Fucking what the fuck. If USA thinks it’s a good idea, then I guarantee you that Vince thinks it’s a good fucking idea. USA is the network that the show is on. Fuck. Ratings may be dipping in the third hour, but that’s still an extra hour of the show they’re getting paid to do. They’re not putting it on the air for free. In fact, by adding that extra hour, they now have to worry LESS about the ratings than previously.
CB: Let me conclude this week’s proceedings with this: In New York City’s last mayoral election, there was a guy who ran against Bloomberg under the “My Rent Is Too Damn High” party. Well, I say we all band together like Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal and Drew McCintyre and form a new parallel faction: The ‘My Raw Is Too Damn Long’ party. All we have to do to succeed is find other things to do from 8-11:15 pm ET instead of watching the USA Network. It’s not that hard, actually, just ask the millions of people who do it every week, or the hundreds of thousands who have recently made the switch. And if Vince isn’t careful, the WWE Universe he built up on Monday nights will start to seriously crack, and this could cause the entire thing to crumble.
Blair: You’re absolutely right. I personally find Raw unwatchable, now more than almost ever. The only time I MAYBE considered it a worse show would have been around 2007-2009 or so. MAYBE. But even then, the show wasn’t as long or as riddled with ads. I consider watching a 3-hour wrestling show where a good 20% of the show is ads for itself to be borderline insane behaviour.
In a world where now, more than ever, there are a hundred other things you could be doing, making your already-bloated show something that took up most of someone’s night into something that basically takes up someone’s entire night isn’t something that I understand being get on board with. I mean, you can’t even make a 3-hour movie in North America anymore and expect a studio to make it. WWE puts this show on every WEEK.
At some point last year, Punk advocated on his Twitter that fans shouldn’t stop watching and going to the shows. He said you should show up and make yourself heard. I’m a fan of Punk and all, but this is bullshit. Half the crowd has made themselves heard by shitting on Cena for years, and he’s still the biggest guy on the show. The only two real stars that WWE has stumbled upon in the past year, they’ve tried to force people to hate.
So, showing up and making yourself heard is not really the answer then, is it?
Which means, as CB said, and as I’ve said for years, the ONLY correct move is to stop watching.
But don’t pretend that WWE is in trouble.
Justin Czerwonka: So while Vince McMahon will parade out on RAW and try to make you think everything is okay, remember that it is not. Vince knows that he has a problem on his hands and he needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat to get viewers back. But will some stupid Vince McMahon stunt really be enough for the product this time around? Instead of a one time trick to get viewers back, Vince needs to worry about the long term future of the company. Start focusing on the future with the talent you have. And find some way to get out of the 3 hour RAW format.
Blair: Ah, the old “things are not okay!” mindset.
WWE is MUCH better than okay. We’re supposed to think they’re not because of some stupid ratings drop?
Here are some facts. If you take anything away from this article, make it this:
WWE has INCREASED profits EVERY SINGLE YEAR from 2006 until last year.
In a period of DECREASING viewership.
In a depression.
In 2010, they posted their highest profit since 1999, their most impressive year in history.
Last year, their profit was cut in half due to over 23 million dollars in losses in the movie division, and over 4 million dollars in startup costs for the WWE Network. If not for that, they’d only have made SLIGHTLY less profit than they made the year before.
Now, don’t confuse decreased profits with a loss. They still made money. Besides, the most important thing about those numbers is that it doesn’t reflect any kind of a drop in WRESTLING profits – like last year with the movie and the network. And if you look at their fiscal history over the past decade, the years they’ve made less profit is almost always due to some side project unrelated to their TV or PPV revenue. That tells you that from their perspective, it’s the side projects that need to change, not the wrestling product itself. The wrestling product is relatively constant. It’s the cash cow part of the operation. They’re going to look at where the losses are coming from and try to plug THOSE leaks. Like how they outsourced the production of the movies after they took huge losses.
And, WrestleMania just obliterated the company record for the highest-grossing WrestleMania of all time. 8.9 fucking million, man. 8.9 million. They’ve added two MORE shows to their lineup – shows that they will ALSO make money on. They just syndicated RAW with Universal. This is in addition to all the syndications they already had. You have any idea how much syndications pay?
It’s not about number of viewers. It’s about money. It’s always been about money. WWE is a publicly traded company. Do you think WWE’s stakeholders care about how many people watch their product over how much money they’re making? You honestly think they give a shit about ratings when profits have actually gone UP as ratings have decreased?
The bottom line is, WWE is not losing money on their wrestling. And if they’re not losing money overall, while financing insane projects like a poorly conceived attempt to launch a network, then trust me, they’re doing just fine. 4 million down the drain on the network with no return and they’re still making profit.
THIS is why nothing has changed.
Could WWE hit a point where their viewing numbers inspire them to make an actual change? Of course. But if that point is going to be about ratings at all, then that rating is going to have to go a lot lower.
Know how I know that? History.
In October 2007, PWTorch posted this: “Vince McMahon has been forced to make more last–second major changes to his storylines in the last five months than any time in his history, the latest being the untimely injury to John Cena. Raw dropped to a 2.8 rating the day after No Mercy, a ten–year low for the second Monday of October. Ratings with Cena hadn’t been great, so McMahon being forced to shuffle plans due to Cena’s injury may lead to some positive changes.”
Uh-huh. Sound familiar?
Someone forwarded me a PWTorch article from last week with that little snippet in it, which can be found here. If you’re tempted to click on it, I’d advise you not to bother as you’ll likely have read something similar already anyway. The one part of the article that’s interesting is the part I posted above.
What dramatic changes has there been to WWE since then? A few guys have left, and some new guys have showed up. But is the show really different as a whole?
If they’re the least bit smart or profit-driven, then it’ll be a lack of profit in the wrestling division that forces them to make a change, since the money is what matters.
IF that even happens.
So the necessity to take risks doesn’t exist for them – they’ve been completely comfortable with their WRESTLING profits for years. WWE isn’t going to bother taking company-changing risks by switching up their format or doing anything OTHER than what’s made them money on the wrestling side so far. People like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan aren’t what’s made them that money. And until some competition comes along and actually threatens to eclipse their product in some way, or their profits drop below a level they’re comfortable with, then it’s a perfectly safe and profitable cash-cow business model that I imagine investors are perfectly happy with.
On top of that, I’ve heard the argument made that everyone who has or will tune out of wrestling has already done so in the past decade – what they have left are their most loyal, most hardcore fans and viewers, who likely won’t tune out no matter what happens – or, if they’re kids, they’ll grow up – but by the time that happens, they’ll have hooked in more kids anyway.
Look, don’t get me wrong. No one would be happier than me if the show were to change in some way or do something fresh. I don’t mean a push for a single wrestler or some Nexus storyline. I mean something that actually changes the way they tell stories, do matches, or run their show. I think having more complex storylines that involve more than two or three wrestlers at a time would be a good start. I think getting some actual wrestlers who fans don’t have to make excuses for, like “well, he’s a shitty wrestler but…” would be good as well. More than anything, I think having the whole company revolve around more than the same 2 or 3 guys would be refreshing. That’s just me though. Everyone wants different stuff out of the show.
But as I said – if you don’t like the show, don’t watch it. It’s not like you’re going to miss anything. Read highlights and if there’s something you want to see, you can be on WWE’s own YouTube page and viewing it within seconds. That’s what I do. And I haven’t missed a thing.
WWE has a tough job. It’s gotta be hard to find reasons for oiled up guys in tights to “grapple”. But that’s not your problem – you don’t owe them anything. If you continue to watch and the show has been letting you down for years, don’t blame them – blame yourself. You’re the one making the conscious decision to watch a show you don’t enjoy.
But just because you don’t enjoy it, doesn’t mean they’re not doing well. And some minimal drop in ratings doesn’t mean they “need” to change their plans or their direction. WWE has lost millions of viewers in the last decade, and they didn’t change their direction because they found other ways of being profitable with the audience they have. Don’t start talking like their wrestling show is in trouble and it needs to change when it’s been increasingly profitable for years.
That’s all the time we have this week. Thanks as always for everyone’s contributions.
It’s time for…
June 16, 2011
Corey Yuen: Let me get this straight: You are knocking TNA for not holding on to Chyna and Mick Foley??????? HUH??? Don’t you complain that TNA has too many old guys, and gals on the roster and how they need to concentrate on younger, newer faces? They, in an unintentional great move, get rid of useless waste like Chyna and Mick Foley. That’s a great thing; neither was worth keeping around anymore. But somehow you are knocking them for not being able to hang on to them. Folks, you cannot make this up! Gunner is a pretty good talker. I was impressed with his back and forth with Mr. Anderson. And he was getting a reaction from the crowd.
I believe Chyna and Mick Foley had been with TNA all of 2 or 3 weeks when this was written. And, we can’t forget that “unintentional great move” gem.
Let’s get to…
New Rule #1: If you’re smart enough to take a video on your phone, you have to be smart enough to hold the thing in such a way that someone will be able to tell what the fuck they’re looking at.
New Rule #2: If personal friends who aren’t into wrestling follow you on Twitter, and you spend all day Tweeting wrestlers, then I know something you don’t know about your friends. They hate you.
New Rule #3: If Jeff Jarrett and / or Eric Bischoff show up at the TNA PPV as some people have suggested, then any TNA fan who utters the word “improving” can legally be shot in the street from now until the end of time. And remember, a lot TNA fans live in Florida, where this rule wouldn’t really be that much of a stretch.
New Rule #4: WWE has to give fans of The Miz more ammo to fight with. His target demographic (people with short-term memory loss) aren’t that hard to please. But what they’ve done with Miz since he got back is almost pitiful enough to make ME consider being a fan. Then I remember that I have a university degree and a functioning penis.
New Rule #5: Don’t touch the wrestlers.
That’s all the time we have for this week! I hope you enjoyed the article – please feel free to leave any thoughts you have in the comment section, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter @BlairADouglas if you’re into such things.
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.
I’ll be in my trailer.