There is no question that WWE is scraping for ratings. However, with the advent of the WWE Network, somehow the company is concentrating so much on that project, while the obvious downfall of overall viewers is being dangerously overlooked. While there is a very small chance that WWE will ever get to the position that so few people are watching which causes them to dissolve, the lost factor of casual fans viewing shows is making it much more of a niche product.
Back in the glory days of wrestling, the World Wrestling Federation and the National Wrestling Alliance focused on building marquee names. This would not only help with bringing wrestling fans to arenas, but it would also assist in these fans bringing their friends and family to partake in the spectating festivities. Kayfabe was so alive and well that wrestlers had to be protected as a result of playing their character so well. Now, characters are not a high priority, which makes fans lose interest and have a lackluster response for the buildup of a match.
Unfortunately, the numbers do not lie, and the ratings are showing the decline in interest. Particularly, for the brand-exclusive pay-per-views. Sadly, this is not a surprise. Along with WWE oversaturating gimmick pay-per-views such as Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, Elimination Chamber, and Hell in a Cell, being specific to one brand hurts them even more.
This was recently shown by F4WOnline, as the ratings for the past 30 weeks were revealed. After the Battleground pay-per-view, the following week had a decline in ratings, but increased for SummerSlam. There was a spike after the event, but declined to under 3 million from Backlash all the way until the week following Survivor Series, with the week of October 17 being the only exception. This also meant that both Clash of Champions and one of the “big four” pay-per-views, Survivor Series, were under 3 million viewers. The total tallies were 2,453,789 and 2,984,308, respectively. The two other pay-per-views during this time, No Mercy and Hell in the Cell, did 2,747,231 and 2,590,717 respectively.
Perhaps the most telling statistic is the average viewers on the brand-exclusive pay-per-views, compared to the pay-per-views that were not (including Battleground). The average for the former is 2,780,058, while the latter is 3,308,372. That is a difference of over half-a-million viewers.
The Raw events following pay-per-views have experienced the hardest hits.
“Moving to shows following brand-exclusive PPVs, this is where there is a big drop in the average audience. There have been seven such shows since the brand split, and Raws following those shows have had their audience decrease by an average of seven percent.”
The beginning of the year showed an increase in ratings, and the buildup for the Royal Rumble was relatively successful as it was the highest-viewed event in the past 30 weeks. However, viewership has experienced a decline ever since the Royal Rumble, which is not a good projection for Fastlane.
Typically, the road to WrestleMania gains a higher level of interest, even from the casual audience. With Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship expected to be the main event, the mainstream appeal will be a vital marketing strategy to fill up the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, and gain new subscriptions for the WWE Network.
WWE has shown subtle attempts to draw more viewers to their shows. Particularly, promoting Goldberg and Brock Lesnar appearances on Raw. However, a lackluster Kevin Owens WWE Universal Championship run, along with Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Kevin Owens usually being the same three people in the main event rotation every week, leaves fans empty and disappointed. Hopefully, a review of these numbers by the WWE executive staff will result in some major changes for the Raw brand, as well as the pay-per-view structure.
[Featured Image By WWE]