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WWE RAW: Analyzing the decline in the ratings

FEATURED COLUMNIST
6.06K   //    07 Jun 2014, 15:37 IST
WWE’s woes with the show’s ratings

To begin with, the WWE fans are divided into three categories – The casual fans, who buy into the product, the smart fans, who’re the ones who voice their opinions about the company and the kind of product they’re putting out, and the occasional fans, who don’t catch most of the WWE programming, but tune in once in a while to see what is happening in the world of professional wrestling. Ideally for a company, the main focus has to be the fans of the third category. Why? Because the more they focus on the part – time fans, the more fan base they garner, which then becomes a part of the first category of fans who tune in regularly. That happens to be the basic concept while running a business, and with WWE, it has become the opposite.

WWE caters to the first set of fans, who buy into the product, and constitute the bigger portion of WWE’s consumer list. They are the kids and their parents, who flock the merchandise stalls to buy John Cena T – shirts or action figures. They also go to the WWE shows to watch the larger than life superstars perform live, and invest their hard earned money into the WWE’s product. Deciphering WWE’s target audience isn’t as easy as it might sound from the outside – When you look at the dirt sheets or the internet message boards, you see a lot of opinions from the smart fans, who might make you believe that they constitute the largest portion of the WWE fan base, when in fact, they happen to be the smallest.

WWE brings a lot of analysts on board to understand where they stand as a company, and who buys into their product more. The various sectors and demographics help them in understanding their fan base better, and ever since the ‘PG era’, WWE has shifted its focus towards the younger audience, altering their product to suit the demographics that make them the most money. In hindsight, that is completely understandable, but the fault with WWE lies in underestimating the other two categories. During the PG era, WWE was successful in garnering more fans, who fall under the 5 – 12 age group, but that was when they made the mistake of ignoring the teenagers and the adult fans, who grew up with the Steve Austins and The Rocks. That resulted in WWE turning them away from the company.

Recently, there has been a decline in the ratings. For the past decade, WWE hasn’t been doing more than 4.0 on ratings scale (except for very few segments), and that has been on a steady decline ever since. In today’s scenario, WWE is happy with a 3.5, which is seen as a remarkable achievement for a regular episode of RAW. What is the reason for this decline in the ratings? In the past few weeks, reports came out about WWE doing poor numbers, and the explanation for that is just as complicated as figuring out the exact middle ground between the different demographics. With Vince McMahon in power, WWE concentrated more on the younger fans, but now, they’re also catering to the smart fans. The problem is, WWE hasn’t found the middle ground between the two.

On one hand, you have John Cena still being the face of the company, which would go well with the younger fans than the older ones, and with the likes of Daniel Bryan and Cesaro finding themselves closer to the top than the others, WWE caters to the older, and smarter fans as well. The brilliance of a promoter or an organization lies with understanding the balance between the different age groups, and that is what WWE is struggling with at the moment. That isn’t to say that other organizations have figured it out; TNA is ever so close to selling its company provided they get some profit in return, while there is no other organization in the United States that can compete even with TNA, as Ring of Honor is still miles away from becoming the number two wrestling promotion in North America.

Is there a quick fix to this problem? No, but it takes time for a change to take effect. There is a possibility that WWE will find the proper balance soon, which can solve most of their problems. In this case, WWE will be its own enemy, as it is often seen that the shows they come out with are mediocre at best, and that doesn’t do them any favors when it comes to ratings. One would imagine that the WWE management will be more alert to such cases after the recent financial debacle but we needn’t be surprised if WWE keeps putting on below average shows. The three hour shows might generate more profits for the company, but it has also impacted the quality of their product.

WWE has stood the test of time, and not only did it survive, but it thrived by evolving with time. But with the way things are going at the moment, it would take more than getting one PPV right to see a spike in the ratings.

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FEATURED COLUMNIST
MMA/UFC/professional wrestling fan. A Manchester United fan through and through. Might also be seen cheering on Nadal and Djoko.
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