WWE RAW has experienced a year of ups and downs for it’s ratings. Dating back to WWE’s 1000th episode, the WWE decided to go to three hours with RAW. USA Network was on board with it as it allowed them to sell more advertising space, and that obviously increased their revenue. With USA Network being the #1 Cable Channel in America for the better part of a decade, they are able to charge a good bit for advertising space, especially during one of their top shows.
USA felt that the extra hour would massively benefit them, and it has. WWE RAW brought in around one billion dollars for USA Network over the last two years, adding up to 500 million per year. That’s not bad money, if you ask me. However, ratings for the show, despite the actual profits for the network, have not been favorable.
WWE usually has good January to August numbers, averaging a 3.0 or higher in America. This is a big deal for WWE as it allows them to show the success to the Network who can pay them more at times. WWE also managed to do commercial free shows that gained them 4.0-6.0 ratings, which are the highest since WWE’s Attitude Era in the 1990’s.
The big issue for some, when it comes to the WWE, is the content. WWE is PG and has been since around 2007. WWE managed to do well with this, and they seem to be making more money per year than they used to in the years prior. WrestleMania has been bought more during the PG Era, as well as many other PPVs.
On top of that, WWE has managed to do increasingly well in the stock market over the last number of years, and this year the share price reached its highest level since the company went public in 2000. Unfortunately, the bottom seems to have dropped out, and in the last few weeks, the share price dropped substantially.
However, some feel that WWE’s ratings for RAW and other programs are affected by the PG aspect of the company.
Vince Russo, a former writer and creative team member with the WWE, WCW, and TNA thinks he has it all figured out with the WWE’s ratings problem. He had this to say on his blog about the real reason the WWE product has had issues lately:
“‘You can’t be half pregnant.’ Vince McMahon said that to me many, many years ago, and it has become my #1 rule when scripting wrestling. What Vince meant was that when you make the decision to do something—YOU GO ALL THE WAY WITH IT! So, the WWE made the decision to go family friendly—they told us all–however, the problem is that they’re not going all the way with it—-they are BEING HALF PREGNANT. Is this because in reality they, themselves as a company, haven’t bought 100% into it, and are just trying to “appease” the board, or, are there other reasons simply steaming [sic] from greediness?”
While Russo has a point in some ways, WWE has remained under the PG banner. Unlike before, the PG rating has been loosened in the last decade. The same can be said with PG-13 and TV-14 ratings.
WWE has remained PG, and although they do add edgy material from time to time…it’s more to appease the older crowd when they do. You cannot make the show similar to Barney the Dinosaur or something from Playhouse Disney; WWE cannot survive like that. Russo has a point in that WWE cannot go half way with some of it. The issue is WWE is trying to relate to the audience as a whole.
No matter if you’re PG or TV-MA, there is no rating in the world that matters if the writing sucks. The WWE really lives and dies with its creative and writing team. This has become such a problem for them that the WWE is now training NXT talent in developmental areas to come up with a lot of their own material. That way, the WWE can simply get a fresh product with a lot of possibilities when a person arrives on the main roster, and the creative team isn’t worked to exhaustion. This also helps them with potential stories with talent that has already been on the main roster, and is making a comeback.
WWE RAW got a 2.6 this past week, it’s lowest rating in some time. The Memorial Day holiday usually shows bad ratings for WWE, and adding to the problems, you have the NBA and NHL playoffs and some TV Show’s season finales. So, the WWE should be happy they managed to get the rating they did.
The main issue for a lot of TV Shows is the lack of DVR ratings. A lot of people DVR shows, and the WWE feels that they are “DVR Safe”, which they are not. No one is. Whoever thinks they are should literally punch themselves, because someone, somewhere will DVR them. That is the nature of today’s TV versus what used to be, and it’s very helpful for the avid TV watcher.
The WWE has more fans in America than what is counted, but many of those people watch RAW among other shows on DVR. So, that does not help them at all in the ratings.
Russo was smart in a few points he made. He basically said that trying to appeal to a lot of people is okay, but you have to pick a place to stay and stick with it. Trying to appeal to so many people will hurt the product because you’ll never hone in on one area to call your own. If you’re PG, stay there and work within it. If you’re TV-14, go with that. WWE should potentially stay family friendly with some edge added. But dipping in random areas will not help them long term.
WWE has survived for some time doing things their own way however. Regardless of what Vince Russo said, valid or not, WWE will continue to do things their own way. It is up to the fans to decide on what they want, and WWE will be forced to give it to them. WWE fans wanted Daniel Bryan, and the WWE had to listen to them, even when they didn’t want to. The same can be done with content if the demand is high enough.
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