– In his latest blog, Jim Ross addresses WWE’s ratings decline…
Lots of talk about Monday Night Raw’s last couple of TV ratings and them being lower than normal. There are two primary reasons for this matter, in my opinion. Monday Night Football provides immense competition on cable TV on Monday nights. ESPN/ABC has a huge investment in the NFL and they spend countless hours promoting each Monday Night Football contest. MNF on TV is a right of passage in America. ESPN battles with the USA Network for ratings supremacy and popping big numbers on MNF is the key to ESPN’s success from September thru January. The flexible scheduling is much more amenable to strong football ratings and that did not exist years ago. Bottom line is that football has seemingly become America’s game of choice and MNF still has significant cache as a brand.
Secondly, and this is the old promoter coming out in me, if the attractions are spot on and personal issues are hot enough to create ‘water cooler talk’ then more viewers are likely to tune into Raw. After doing approximately 600 episodes of Monday Night Raw, we knew we always had to battle MNF and even Nitro back in the day. We always strived to create compelling TV and to earn our share of the marketplace. We were fortunate that we had a deep roster of talented, experienced athletes who, in one form or another, clicked with the audience. WWE has some very talented individuals performing on Raw and some are involved in thought provoking storylines. But the biz in general needs new stars to become established ‘box office’ sensations and that simply doesn’t happen over night and honestly for some performers it will never happen.
Personally, I see WWE going through somewhat of a transition period as it relates to the development of new, top talents. I still enjoy watching Raw each week to see how quickly these younger guys evolve and accept the personal responsibility and challenge of becoming a main event star that draws ratings and sells tickets and pay per views. I’ve said many times in this space that the journey from debuting on TV until a talent makes it to the next level, if they do make it, is 3-5 years and particularly starting from scratch and with little or no experience.
Not having viable wrestling territories where a talent could ply their trade under a variety of philosophies and gain invaluable experience is a determent in today’s wrestling world when developing new stars. Does that mean that new stars can’t be developed? Of course not, but I do feel that the process to get from inexperience rookie to a PPV headlining main eventer is longer and more challenging.
I’m very excited about many young, WWE talents and feel with confidence that some will be headlining major events in their career. The question that I can’t answer is exactly when that will occur but until then I will remain patient and continue to enjoy Raw and any other program WWE produces including Friday Night Smackdown which moves to Syfy and emanates from OKC this Friday night. We’re talking a TV show here folks that airs first run about 51 weeks a year and producing a ‘hit’ every week isn’t possible. Can all programs be better? Certainly? Should wholesale changes be implemented? Not in my opinion. Rebuilding a roster takes time.
Bottom line is that I’m not nor do I encourage any one to consider pushing the proverbial panic button but I do feel that the lower TV ratings will motivate everyone in the process to try logical and different things while utilizing different people in unique scenarios.