Despite reports about Vince McMahon not being worried about declining WWE ratings, there's no denying just how important it is for WWE. During the COVID-19 pandemic, WWE had to host their shows in front of empty arenas in the WWE Performance Center.
The first major example of this apart from a few episodes of RAW and SmackDown in March was WrestleMania 36 - the first in the event's history to be hosted in front of no live crowd.
The wheel hasn't stopped spinning for WWE and they kept marching forward, pandemic or no pandemic. WWE hasn't missed out on a single episode of RAW and SmackDown, though they did have a taping schedule in place until they started going live again in the ThunderDome arena.
Kurt Angle was recently interviewed by PWInsider. Dave Scherer asked the WWE Hall of Famer about how the entire focal point of the company's programming has become geared towards television rather than PPVs. Mentioning that 80% of WWE's revenue now comes from their television deals, Kurt Angle explained how the company is under immense pressure to deliver on the ratings front, especially during the pandemic:
Yeah, I think there is a lot of pressure for ratings, especially when you go through the Coronavirus and you see the ratings going down a little bit and you know, you want to get a spike and you don't know what to do and how to do it. I think that now the company is so focused on getting that rating that everything else is not as important, it's the TV rating because that's how they make their money. So I totally understand why they're doing it, but you know ever since this Coronavirus thing took out the crowd, and the crowd, you know, that's part of the show, and when you watch on TV, obviously when you first started watching it, with nobody in the stands and nobody in anywhere in the arena, it was really bland, but then they brought in NXT wrestlers to cheer on the other wrestlers and they bought a little more excitement, but everything is geared towards the TV, you're absolutely right, so if they want to make big, big money, they're going to continue to try and get ratings. It's all about TV.
It's a tough spot to be in, but WWE has been trying various ways to replace the crowds.
Will the return of crowds result in the return of ratings for WWE?
While SmackDown has fared well during the pandemic as a whole, RAW is a show that has been floundering despite some good television. With rumors that Florida will soon allow full capacity venues, it's safe to say that WWE will be relieved and will look to take the opportunity.
However, one would imagine that WWE will take safety precautions and slowly allow fans inside in a limited capacity at first before it's safe to hold full capacity shows.
Either way, the fan reaction is normally the biggest part of any WWE or wrestling show and the company will likely bounce back in the ratings once the crowds return.Published 08 Oct 2020, 11:52 IST