I was chatting with an old friend the other day, about the state WWE is currently in; and reminiscing about days past. We talked about how exciting it was to wake up on Saturdays, waiting an entire week to catch some pro wrestling action; and how much things have changed for our children in terms of being a wrestling fan. We talked about the so-called lagged RAW ratings, merchandise, and so much more.
First off, as per the last financial reports that were released in February 2016, the companyâ€™s revenue went up 21 percent, for a total of just over $658 million dollars; which is the highest number in the WWEâ€™s history. The revenue total includes money made from television, live events, merchandise (both at venues and WWE.com Shop), and of course, the WWE Network. The fact that the business has expanded to this degree, the merchandising ideas and concepts, (and what they can slap a logo on these days), is mind boggling. When I was young, there would be t-shirts, posters, and perhaps an odd program sold at events; nowadays there is anything from $400 WWE titles at the tables, to dolls, wrist bands, alarm clocks, frames, Christmas ornaments, and so much more. I think I spent a solid 20 minutes in line at a recent event, with a sea of other people and their kids, waving money at the stand operators, people pushing, all so that their kids could get their favorite superstarâ€™s merchandise, and be decked out in t-shirts, hats, stickers, dolls, slippers, and more.
Then, there is the issue of lagging RAW ratings. I will admit, that I am no expert on how the Nielsen ratings are calculated, but I will say this: there are almost too many options on cable today, depending on what country you live in, and what cable package you have. How can anyone judge RAW on ratings, when a good majority of people might tape the show, or catch it when it re-airs (up here in Canada, it re-airs two additional times after Monday Night â€¦ maybe even more). We never had those kids of options growing up. You were either in the seat at the time, or you were screwed; and no one wanted to miss a thing. The cable television spectrum has changed dramatically in the last five to ten years – forget about what we had when I was a small child. I use to wait eagerly on Saturdays until 11 a.m. (or sometime along those lines) for pro wrestling television to begin, and then I would sit there, in all my glory with my siblings as we caught WWE, NWA, and AWA programs. Today? If my kids donâ€™t watch RAW or SmackDown (they are on school nights after all), the program can be taped to be watched at a later time; or caught the next day. While WWE may not have direct television competition anymore, in a lot of ways, pro wrestling audiences now have cable options (again, depending on your cable package). Between WWE, ROH, Lucha, TNA, not to mention some smaller indie shows that are showcased locally (where I am at); wrestling fan has some pretty cool options during the week to watch wrestlingâ€“ no more waiting until Saturday. Plus, unlike during the Monday Night Wars, there is no picking and choosing; we as fans can delight in it all.
And then course, there is the Network.
Before you fans start harping on the WWE Network, hereâ€™s the thing to keep in mind: the concept, is still relatively new. Itâ€™s only two years old, and with anything that involves mass audiences, technology, and content; there are (and will be) bumps along the way as they smooth the conceptâ€™s rigid edges. However, it is still an innovative concept, despite that there are bugs in the system, that seemingly pop up when pay-per-views (PPV) air â€¦ letâ€™s all say a collective prayer that nothing goes wrong come WM 32. But, itâ€™s a money-maker; sure, itâ€™s not perfect, it needs some tweaking, but overall, Iâ€™m happy (and getting more impressed) with content, exclusive shows, and the fact that I donâ€™t have to pay stupid amounts monthly for PPVs.
Lastly, the WWE is expanding internationally, which again only equals out to dollars. Going to further areas around the globe, reaching more fans, in different ways. In fact, international revenue rose by 46% in 2015, which is reflected in the over $169 million-dollar total snagged by the WWE. Thinking globally has always been on the radar, but this is another area that the WWE has dived into as of late, and has changed the landscape dramatically for the company in recent years.
So, as the WWE continues to make money, and lots of it, one must take a closer look at the product: the talent, the creative aspect of things, storylines, and matches. At the end of the day, not every PPV can knock it out of the park, and not every program can work; and thatâ€™s what taking chances creatively sometimes means. Then, there are times that Creative simply cannot take chances, to appease a vast WWE demographic. Some feuds are going to fail, some superstars wonâ€™t hit their potential, and some storylines will only be liked by some. I feel like the WWE product, as a whole, is somewhat of perspective rather than fact. Yes, there are times when I roll my eyes, but then there are times when I am pleasantly surprised; it canâ€™ always be mind-blowing. It would be nice if it was, but in reality, this is the case for most entertainment shows, or organizations. However, WWEâ€™s fans are vocal, smart, and outspoken; and the WWE has given them a voice through social media to do this. Smart move, because they hear us all, but can they take everyoneâ€™s input when it comes to programs and storylines? Look at John Cena: you have those who are crazy over him, and others who canâ€™t stand him. How do you even think about turning someone a heel, when a good chunk of your audience will feel alienated. And can a point-of-view be right or wrong? Can someoneâ€™s opinion lead on whether they are (or not) entertained lead to fact?
One thing is for sure, if one were to look at numbers, without tuning into the WWE television, could the WWE be labelled as sinking â€¦ by any stretch of the imagine?
While Iâ€™m ever-so-glad Shane is back, and saving WM 32 â€¦ is he saving the WWE? I think not â€¦