September 9, 2014
Television By Numbers reports that the debut of the third season of Total Divas on the E! network scored an average viewership of 1.2 million viewers with a 0.6 rating in the adults 18-49 demo.
Total Divas went up against the seventh season of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire which scored 2.37 million viewers and was shown in the same time slot as the WWE reality show about its women wrestlers.
The ratings are Live plus Same Day Viewing.
The season premiere was up 15% versus the season 2 premiere according to an E! press release.
Strong ratings considering it did not have Keeping Up With the Kardashians as a lead-in. It also did well considering it went up against Boardwalk Empire and Sunday Night NFL Football on NBC. The WWE is starting to infuse Total Divas storylines with its WWE programming storylines which allows for crossover viewership. Can we see more males tuning into Total Divas due to the crossover with Raw and Smackdown?
September 4, 2014
Former WWE broadcaster Jim Ross and Chael Sonnen will be calling the live PPV telecast of Battlegrounds MMA from Tulsa, Oklahoma on October 3rd. The PPV is $19.95 in the U.S. and Canada.
Via BattleGrounds MMA press release:
Two consummate performers in WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross and recently retired UFC superstar Chael Sonnen have teamed up to form what is bound to be one of the most memorable commentary teams in sports entertainment history, and will call the world-class Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) action on the LIVE pay-per-view telecast of BattleGrounds MMA: ‘O.N.E.’ from BOK Center in Tulsa, Oka. on Friday, October 3.
Headlined by the first one-night, eight-man tournament in Tulsa since UFC 4 in 1994, BattleGrounds MMA: ‘O.N.E.’ will award its welterweight (170 pounds) winner a grand prize of $50,000.
BattleGrounds MMA ‘O.N.E.’ will be distributed at a price point of $19.95 in the United States and Canada by Integrated Sports Media for live viewing, beginning at10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST on October 3 on both cable and satellite pay-per-view carriers iN DEMAND, DirecTV, DISH and Avail-TVN in the United States and Bell TV in Canada. A pre-show will begin at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST.
“As a longtime fan of MMA, to be asked to call the fights for the BattleGrounds MMA event is amazingly exciting for me,” said Ross, a 2007 WWE Hall of Fame inductee. From commentator to referee to executive and even occasional wrestler, Ross has played a multitude of roles for the world’s leading professional wrestling league.
“I’ve broadcast NFL and XFL games,” continued Ross, “FOX Sports boxing and WWE action, but MMA is a new adventure and one that I’m enormously excited about contributing to. To launch this phase of my broadcasting career in my home state, and with Chael Sonnen at cageside makes it an ideal opportunity and a bucket list experience.
“This is going to be a TV event that any MMA fan won’t want to miss,” said Sonnen, who recently retired from the sport that he competed in as a professional since 1997. A three-time UFC championship challenger, Sonnen fought his last 11 career bouts inside The Octagon and enjoyed a stint as an analyst for FOX Sports Network. “I am thrilled to be working with a legend like Jim Ross and, together, we are going to make the BattleGrounds MMA event one of the most exciting extravaganzas in combat sports history.”
The card features a one night tournament featuring eight welterweights including former UFC fighters Cody McKenzie, Brock Larson and Luigi Fiorvanti. Obviously the selling point is Ross and Sonnen as the announce team rather than the actual card. It will be interesting to see how many buys this drums up for the organization. One has to think that this has to be a “break even” situation for the company in hopes of future success.
August 28, 2014
Variety reports that Mark Burnett, the creator of the reality show, “Survivor,” has a new show which follows Lucha Libre wrestlers which will air on the El Rey Network. “Lucha Underground,” is an hour long show which will feature five Luchadores from the AAA promotion in Mexico.
According to TV By The Numbers which has the original press release, shooting for the show begins in Los Angeles next week with a premiere date of October 8th.
The El Rey Network is owned by NBCUniversal and targets Latino audiences. It is available on Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable.
Payout Take: If you recall, Mark Burnett created “The Contender,” a short-lived reality show about boxers trying to make it. Although not widely distributed, this should be an interesting show to give a chance. It definitely caters to the Latino audience as Lucha Libre is popular in Mexico as the Variety article cites that Lucha Libre draws over 85% of Mexican television viewers.
August 13, 2014
Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post where we write about the WWE Network launching overseas and the news that tickets demand are lowest in four years for Summerslam.
WWE Network launches overseas
The official launch of the international over the top network went live this week as it was made available in 170 countries outside of the United States. The hope is that it will pick up much needed subscribers after meager additions after the company’s second quarter. In addition, in order to entice fans that do not want a longer commitment, it is offering two other tiers of subscription.
Via WWE press release:
The U.S. English language version of WWE Network is now available, on an over-the-top basis, in more than 170 countries and territories, including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, Spain, and the Nordics, among others. The network is expected to be live in the U.K. by this October and plans for the network in Italy, UAE, Germany, Japan, India, China, Thailand and Malaysia will be communicated at a later date.
For $9.99 (U.S. dollars) per month with a six month commitment, fans have access to 24/7 programming, all 12 live WWE pay-per-view events, and the most comprehensive video-on-demand library. In addition, subscribers can now choose a monthly offering at $12.99 (U.S. dollars) with no commitment and the ability to cancel at any time. The $12.99 price point is a change from the previously announced $19.99 monthly plan and allows WWE to offer an option with no commitment that we believe better reflects the variety of economies that exist internationally.
Payout Take: We will see how many subscribers latch on to the WWE Network. Overseas growth had been key in the past for WWE traditional businesses. Certainly, the WWE hopes that proves the same with its network.
Summerslam Ticket prices lowest in 4 years
In addition to the WWE Network subscriber disappointment, tickets for this Sunday’s big event, Summerslam, ticket demand for this year rivals that of UFC 174.
According to TiqIQ, the average price for SummerSlam is currently $205.99 with a get-in price of $67, both lows since 2011. Last year the average price was $213.71 with a get-in price of $71. Neither year come close to the peak from 2011 and 2012, which had average prices of $248.31 and $249.64, respectively, with a get-in price of $75.
Payout Take: Take it for what it’s worth as the article was written by the CEO of TiqIQ and he sources his own company for the ticket information. Summerslam 2014 is likely not as bad as UFC 174, but if we assume that the ticket demand is down from last year, it reflects a bad spate for the WWE. Even with Brock Lesnar-John Cena in the main event, the interest appears to be off for this year if we are basing it on the ticket demand. Due to cost-cutting measures from the expenses incurred from the WWE Network, the WWE did away with its mini-exhibition, Axxess, during Summerslam although it will have a scaled down version.
August 10, 2014
The Sports Business Journal (subscription required) reported on the WWE’s launch of its network as part of its feature last week on Over The Top (OTT) networks. The article compliments another within the same issue which talks about the new platform in general.
The article on the WWE reports on the tumultuous time it has had with the launch of the network. Upon the announcement in January, there was much anticipation. But, after the initial numbers came out coupled with the general disappointment the rights fees deal caused the stock to drop and momentum to stop.
The WWE did receive some interesting information from the first few months from subscribers. Despite being off on its projections, the subscribers that have the network are very satisfied with the network. Many utilize the network at least once a week. Also, Xbox and Playstation are the two platforms used by most subscribers. This last part of information would suggest that a younger demo has purchased the network and maybe not as many older viewers (those that one would presume would subscribe for the older content) have the network.
The overarching theme about OTT is the direct competition it has with traditional platforms. At this point, OTT does not offer live sports with the exception of the WWE Network. No big revelation in the article about the WWE. Although the number of subscribers did not hit its target, the users that have it like it. What may be lacking is the older demo that the WWE thought would have been brought in by the vast WWE library.
July 31, 2014
WWE announced its 2nd Quarter earnings on Thursday. The big news was that the WWE Network added just 33,000 subscribers from the 1st Quarter. In addition, it reported laying off 7% of its work force.
While the number of subscribers is off from the company’s initial projections, the WWE indicated that the existing subscribers are happy with it. The company indicated that the Network will roll out in its present form internationally.
Similar to how the UFC introduced pricing options for Fight Pass, the WWE will also roll out options to its current payment plans. Fans can now pay $19.99 per month with no commitment to renew. This is likely to grab those wanting to order specifically to watch a “PPV” event. The other new option is that one can pay one time the $9.99 x 6 months. These two options will be in addition to the current $9.99 per month plan with a 6 month commitment.
The WWE also announced a 10 year deal with Rogers Communications in Canada for the Network to be a traditional pay-tv option.
Overall, WWE reported a Net loss of $14.5 million, or $0.19 per share compared to last year’s second quarter net income of $5.2 million or $0.07 per share. The wide swing is due to the costs for the Network.
Payout Take: WWE stock was up slightly to $12.48 on Thursday. Unfortunately, when a company cuts jobs, the stock experiences a positive bump due in part to the belief that the company is addressing issues with excess. The Hartford Courant states that 53 of the 762 positions with the company would be cut. The article also states that the cuts “along with other efficiencies” should improve the operating income by $30 million (before depreciation and amortization) in 2015.
As for the Network, the number of gained subscribers at this point suggests that it will not reach its targeted goal of 1 million by the end of the year.
July 31, 2014
On Tuesday this week, a Minnesota jury found in favor of former governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura in a defamation case against the estate of a former Navy SEAL that wrote in his best-selling book about a fight with Ventura. The jury awarded Ventura $1.8 million.
Ventura won $500,000 for his defamation claim as he denied getting into a fight with Chris Kyle, a former member of the Navy SEALs and elite sniper. He also won $1.3 million for unjust enrichment.
Essentially, the book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” written by Kyle included a part wherein he talked about an encounter at a bar in Coronado, California where a “celebrity SEAL” was talking a little too much. In the book, he was referred to as “Scruff Face.” Kyle stated that he punched him. It came out in media interviews promoting the book that the “celebrity SEAL” was Ventura.
Ventura sued in 2012 and continued the suit against the estate of Kyle after Kyle died in a shooting at a Texas firing range. He claimed that the book caused him to lose earnings and alienated him from the SEAL community
Source: NY Times
As a public figure, the standard for proving defamation is higher than that of a private person. Ventura is considered as a public figure for a variety of reasons including formerly holding public office, performing as a wrestler and hosting a variety of television shows.
In honor of those that have taken the bar this week, here are the factors for defamation:
- There must be a statement that has been published;
- The statement is false; and
- The false statement must cause injury.
For a public figure, like Ventura, to win a defamation claim, he must prove that the writer had knowledge that the information was false.
There’s no indication that the estate of Kyle will appeal the ruling. It appears that insurance paid the defense for Kyle’s estate and presumably will pay the verdict. Ventura states that the jury award will essentially pay off the lawyers. The jury deliberated several days after closing arguments which some suspected that Ventura had proved his case and it was a matter of how much he would receive. It would be interesting to know the evidence which showed that the incident retold in the book was false.
July 28, 2014
TMZ Sports first reported that TNA Impact Wrestling on Spike TV will not be renewed by the network. The company has been with Spike TV since October 2005.
While ratings usually hover around 1.2 million viewers on Thursday nights and once served as lead-in for Bellator, the promotion has fallen on hard times. Attendance and finances have been the leading causes for the downturn in what is the de facto number 2 professional wrestling company.
According to Dave Meltzer on Sunday night’s Wrestling Observer podcast, the TMZ report has been confirmed by people within TNA. The current deal runs through October although it’s not clear whether Spike TV will continue to air it through the end of the deal.
Recently, King Mo re-emerged with the organization and it’s not clear whether he will continue on as part-time wrestler, part-time MMA fighter if TNA continues on another network.
Payout Take: It’s an interesting move on the part of Spike TV to cancel TNA as it does have a following of at least 1 million viewers each week. Compare that with Bellator ratings and TNA would seemingly be safe on the network. Perhaps TNA is going a different direction here. As for TNA, it’s not clear if the company will fold or seek to find another network to air on. But, if you look at the WWE’s rights fee deal, pro wrestling may not be a burgeoning property in the television industry.
July 16, 2014
MMA Junkie reports that King Mo Lawal, Cheick Kongo and Bobby Lashley have been added to Bellator 123 which takes place on September 5th in Connecticut. Lashley is a pro wrestler with TNA Wrestling and is currently its Heavyweight champion.
In addition to his pro wrestling experience, Lashley has competed in MMA. The move attempts to bulk up an already stacked card which is headlined by Pat Curran defending his Featherweight title against Patricio Freire.
The current card via Bellator press release:
Bellator Featherweight Title Fight: Pat Curran (20-5) vs. Patricio Pitbull (21-2)
Bellator Heavyweight Feature Fight: Cheick Kongo (21-9) vs. Lavar Johnson (18-9)
Bellator Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: King Mo (12-4) vs. Tom DeBlass (9-2)
Bellator Heavyweight Feature Fight: Bobby Lashley (10-2) vs. Josh Burns (8-7)
The Bellator card will go head to head with a UFC Fight Night card that has been bulked up due to the cancellation of UFC 176. The card, which takes place at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut is headlined by Gegard Mousasi taking on Ronaldo Souza.
September 5th will be a big night for MMA fans as it’s the first time the two organizations go head-to-head on television and in the same state. The signing of Lashley is somewhat surprising but it does add name recognition for the crossover pro wrestling fans. With TNA Wrestling taping most of its shows through August already, it’s unlikely that Bellator can take advantage of the crossover on its weekly TNA shows (which draw over 1M viewers) unless it edits in info about Lashley in voiceovers. Lawal and Kongo also make sense as Lawal can sell his fights and the ratings reflect that Kongo (for some reason) produces good ratings for Bellator.
May 30, 2014
Before we head into one of the bigger combat sports Saturdays in a while, we welcome you to another edition of the Wrestling Post.
In a bit of bad timing for the WWE, this Sunday its Pay Per View event, Payback in Chicago will now go up against Game 7 for the Chicago Blackhawks as it plays the Los Angeles Kings to see who makes it to the Stanley Cup. The card itself is not that strong and the importance for many Chicago sports fans will be centered around the hockey team.
Also on Sunday will be the Season Finale for Total Divas on E! In its second season, (and renewed for a third) the episode culminates at Wrestlemania and Daniel Bryan’s wedding. This season’s average through 10 episodes is slightly over 1.16 million viewers. It’s likely that it will not surpass its first season of almost 1.3 million viewers per episode. For the second time this season, the episode will run up against its own brand so we might expect a certain segment of fans putting the finale on the DVR.
Regardless of the outcome of the finale, Total Divas has proven to be an asset for the E! network. According to a recent press release, the network credited Total Divas for its 7% increase across key demos.
Via E! press release:
Returning series Total Divas is one key driver of growth, out-delivering year-ago programming across all key demos by impressive triple digit growth up to +135% in Total Viewers (1.0 Million), +103% in Women 18-34 (252,000), and +142% in Adults 18-49 (628,000). Total Divas is pacing as E!’s best sophomore original series in two years (since May 2012) and is the network’s second-most watched original program after Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Total Divas also ranks as a Top 5 ad-supported cable show on Sundays 9pm to 10pm in Women 18-34 (#3) and Adults 18-34 (#5).
Payout Take: Despite what you may think about the reality show, it has become valuable to the E! network. Even though there has been a slight decrease in viewership this season, it is doing well with key demos. In its first season, it was positioned to succeed with a prime spot after its top series, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. This season has gone without Kim and Chloe as a lead-in but still has produced on one of the busiest nights on television.