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.
April 18, 2014
Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post. In this edition we write about a new PPV announced, DirecTV plays hard ball and the latest ratings from Total Divas.
Ring of Honor tries PPV Sunday June 22nd
This week Ring of Honor announced that it would be holding its first PPV ever for the company Sunday, June 22nd.
Notably, the ROH PPV is the same weekend as Glory’s first PPV and a week after TNA Wrestling’s PPV, Slammiversary. ROH had previously put on iPPVs with some noted difficulties.
The Sinclair Broadcasting-owned ROH have expanded its reach with its weekly show as more affiliates carry ROH. Of course, it’s at 1:00 am on Friday night here in Seattle so you can still DVR the show. Hopefully promotion of the PPV will attract fans to buy the PPV.
Payout Take: The PPV can be seen as ROH capitalizing on the WWE popularity and its champion – Daniel Bryan worked Ring of Honor for some time. 104,000 buys is the unofficial number of ECW’s very first PPV – Barely Legal in 1997. We shall see if ROH can do better in 2014. ROH has more financial backing and should put on more of a polished product. Obviously PPV has evolved since the late 1990s and we will see which satellite/cable companies pick up the PPV but it will be an interesting comparison.
DirecTV drops WWE PPVs
Earlier this week, DirecTV announced that it would no longer offer WWE PPVs to its subscribers per PW Torch. WWE did release a statement acknowledging the move by the satellite company. “Yes, DIRECTV has decided to stop offering our PPV’s residentially and commercially. The only other option would be to work through the local cable provider.”
DirecTV did leave an out that it may return to carrying WWE PPVs. You may recall that the Dish Network first announced that it would no longer carry the company’s PPVs since it launched its digital network. However, the distributor changed its mind and carried Wrestlemania XXX. The domestic buys for Wrestlemania XXX, the first PPV carried on the WWE Network, drew 400,000 purchases.
Payout Take: While the WWE is hoping for the success of its network, it still seeks its distributors to continue to carry its PPV. Distributors such as DTV and Dish saw this as a direct hit against its profits from the WWE PPVs. We all knew that the WWE Network would cannibalize its PPV profits but would benefit the WWE bottom line in the long run. We will see whether DTV stands it ground. It has played hard ball in the past. One need only look at the acrimonious negotiations between DTV and the Pac 12 Network and The Weather Channel to see it doesn’t back down.
Total Divas ratings
Episode 4 for the second season of Total Divas on E! scored 1.164 million viewers for a 0.5 rating among adults 18-49 according to Television By Numbers. The episode was the first in two weeks having taken off for Wrestlemania XXX Sunday.
The 1.164 million is the second-lowest rating this season for the reality show. This season’s average is at 1.26 million viewers.
November 28, 2013
Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post. In this edition we talk Total Divas renewal and TNA’s new television deals.
Total Divas renewed for second season
With the ratings success of Total Divas, it was given an extended first season and now comes news that it will be given a second season.
“Total Divas” has averaged 1.4 million total viewers since its summer debut, making it one of E!’s most promising new entries and a strong performer on Sunday nights in the 18-34 demo. From WWE and Bunim-Murray Prods., series centers on the lives of femme WWE stars both inside and outside of the ring.
Total Divas ratings took a step back this week with the first rating under 1 million viewers this past week but this may be due in part to the NFL (Broncos-Patriots) and the company’s own PPV, Survivor Series.
Payout Take: The reality show was one of three new reality shows the network announced as returning for another season. It received an optimum amount of push by the WWE (with promotion during its programming) and by E! as its primary lead-in was the network’s highest rated show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
TNA Wrestling forges TV agreement in Japan and Australia
TNA Wrestling announced an agreement with the Nippon Television Network Corporation. TNA Impact Wrestling will be seen every Saturday and PPVs will be shown monthly. In addition, it has signed a two-year deal with Fuel TV Australia. In addition to the weekly program in Australia, TNA will introduce shoulder programming to complement TNA in Australia.
Payout Take: The agreements abroad appear to be ways to expand the TNA brand and maybe keep the company afloat amidst rumors of its financial trouble. On another note, Sports Illustrated featured TNA’s head Dixie Carter in an interesting read about how her family decided to purchase a majority interest in the company.
September 14, 2013
Ratings for a replay of Bellator 98 on Thursday were up as compared to its live viewing last Saturday night. Thursday’s airing scored 556,000 viewers as opposed to 437,000 viewers for its live viewing.
Bellator 98’s lead-in, TNA Impact Wrestling scored 1.3 million viewers for a 0.5 share. The numbers were impressive for a night opposite NFL Football featuring the New York Jets and New England Patriots. According to Television By Numbers, the NFL game scored 8.79 million viewers.
A nice bounce bank for Bellator although the ratings are still low for a live event. No word on Friday night’s live event from Temecula but it will be interesting to see. The boost in ratings on a night opposite NFL, is interesting and may persuade me into thinking more that the pro wrestling lead-in helps.
August 28, 2013
Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post. This time we take a look at Total Divas ratings, a new philanthropic endeavor by the WWE and the plight of Jesse Sorenson.
Total Divas returns to form
The show that everyone hates but people cannot get enough of E!’s Total Divas did a respectable 1.46 million average viewers despite going up against the much talked about (due to Miley Cyrus) VMA awards. The VMAs stole the night with an average of 10 million viewers. Yet, the WWE show about its women wrestlers was up from its previous week when it went up against its own event, WWE Summerslam.
Episode 1: 1.34 million
Episode 2: 1.53 million
Episode 3: 1.67 million
Episode 4: 1.34 million
Episode 5: 1.46 million
Payout Take: The show has found an audience and despite its corny hijinks, it is doing well for the E! network and the WWE. Its even provided a storyline for RAW wherein one of the characters (AJ Lee) calls out the show for being stupid since its not “real”.
WWE creates $100K anti-bullying campaign
Wrestling is fake. But, the WWE’s social conscious initiatives are real. the WWE has been able to reinvent itself into a global company that is publicly traded. One of the more impressive things about the organization is the different types of philanthropic endeavors which it aligns itself. According to a WWE press release, it will offer 4 $25,000 grants to non-profit organizations that develop and implement programs promoting anti-bullying.
Via WWE press release:
“Our mission at WWE is to put smiles on people’s faces and we do that, in part, by supporting programs and initiatives that positively impact children and families around the world,” said Stephanie McMahon, Executive Vice President, Creative, WWE. “We are proud to offer organizations tools and resources to help fight bullying, a critical issue facing young people today in schools, communities and online.”
Payout Take: This is an admirable program that will foster a lot of good will from people that do not necessarily like professional wrestling. The WWE’s involvement is good publicity and allows it space into the childhood demographic which will in turn help its other departments (i.e., merchandise, television, etc.).
Ex-TNA wrestler forced to pay medical bills
The story of a professional wrestler having to deal with their own medical bills is not new. But in the case of Jesse Sorensen, its a public relations hit for TNA. Sorensen literally broke his neck in the ring during a match in TNA. The injury caused him temporary paralysis. News has surfaced (via HighSpots.com and The Wrestling Observer) that TNA refused to pay his medical bills. Moreover, he was released by the organization, along with several other wrestlers, as a result of what appears to be an overall cost-cutting measure. Sorensen claims that TNA head Dixie Carter promised him a job for life within the company.
According to Cageside Seats, Sorensen relied on his mother’s medical insurance (we assume Sorensen was uninsured) to pay for the bills from his broken neck. It appears that the insurance didn’t cover all bills as his mother filed for bankruptcy due to the overwhelming debt.
Payout Take: This is another unfortunate example of the perils of the independent contractor. Sorensen’s story is much more a PR problem considering his public injury and the alleged promises made to him about his bills and his position within the company. We’ve heard of stories of the WWE stepping up and assisting retired fighters (that worked for the company) with medical care and pay for surgeries and/or rehab. But, TNA is not the global company that the WWE is and without the funds to help people like Sorensen. So the problem is the claimed assurances made by TNA that Sorensen would be taken care of after his horrific in-ring accident. Unfortunately, it appears that Sorensen may need to seek legal help in this matter.
August 20, 2013
Ratings for the 8th episode of Fight Master are back up to 595,00 viewers according to Spike TV. The show debuted in its new timeslot and night.
Episode 7: 398,000 viewers – DVR +3; 505,000 vieweres
Episode 8: 595,000 viewers
A good week for Fight Master after it changed times and nights. After a disappointing low point last Wednesday, moving the show with TNA Impact Wrestling as its lead-in helped boost the ratings. Certainly, the angle with Tito-Rampage at the end on TNA was a subtle nudge that Bellator’s reality show was next. We will see if the viewership remains steady and up at its new location.
August 2, 2013
Tito Ortiz showed up at the end of TNA Wrestling’s Impact show Thursday night as the “mystery man” the promotion had been billing as the #August1Warning. A day earlier, at Bellator 97 Ortiz showed up as the “mystery” opponent for Rampage Jackson to face on Bellator’s first PPV November 2nd.
Ortiz’s appearance will serve as a dual purpose for Viacom as it will now promote Ortiz-Rampage on TNA as well as on Bellator. Ortiz has been involved in pro wrestling in 2005 for TNA as a “special guest referee.” We’ll see if Ortiz will actually wrestle for TNA in 2013.
It looks as though Ortiz’s signing with Viacom makes it the third MMA fighter to fight for Bellator and be involved in TNA Wrestling. Ortiz’s appearance for TNA comes at a time when there are rumors of financial instability and wrestlers being released from the company. It will be interesting to see how the cross promotion goes for both companies. Ortiz and Jackson are named stars that have done well in PPV in the past. However, that was the past. Jackson’s work in pro wrestling thus far on TNA has not looked good and we assume that Ortiz has not done a lot of pro wrestling training either. So, they may have to rely on the talking to promote. As for ratings, we will see how receptive the move is for TNA.
May 14, 2013
Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post. This week we take a look at the WWE’s online move to Yahoo!, a pro wrestler gets in trouble on twitter and TNA moves one hour later while Bellator goes to Wednesday nights.
WWE moves content to Yahoo! Divas get own show on E!
Variety reports on Yahoo!’s partnership for showing exclusive WWE content online. Earlier this month engaged in a content agreement E! Television. Despite its time on YouTube, the WWE passed on being one of the new channels on YouTube’s fee based subscription service.
As if there wasn’t enough wrestling on Monday night, Yahoo! will air a 30 minute pregame show for Monday Night Raw among other original content. The deal includes Yahoo! having access to the WWE’s library. The Big Show and Stephanie McMahon made an appearance at the upfronts for Yahoo! WWE content should make its debut this summer on Yahoo!
In addition, the WWE Divas will have their own one hour reality show on the E! Network. Presumably, it will follow the women of the WWE backstage and through their “real” lives.
Payout Take: The new Yahoo! deal is an interesting switch from YouTube as the two parties decided not to renew its deal. WWE has opted to stick with an ad-based model (relying on ads for revenue) for its online content rather than join YouTube in a subscription-based model. As we know, the UFC and TNA Wrestling have pay channels in YouTube’s pilot program. Perhaps the WWE did not want to have fans to spend money on a subscription-based channel when it plans to have its own network to subscribe to soon. It could also be that the WWE saw more of advantage with ad revenue than subscriptions.
ROH disciplines its Champion for Offensive Tweet
The Wrestling Post does not usually cover independent wrestling organization Ring of Honor but its champion, Jay Briscoe, got into some hot water after making some controversial tweets about gay marriage. Briscoe, a native of Delaware, reacted via twitter to the recent passage of his state’s new law allowing gay marriage. Essentially, he’s not a fan of it.
In an effort to make things right, Ring of Honor made Briscoe apologize in the ring and he indicated that he would make a donation to an anti-bullying organization.
Payout Take: Even in the independent wrestling circuit, protecting the brand of the company and its image is necessary. The actions by Ring of Honor may not have happened on the independent circuit 10 years earlier. But, in an effort to be more inclusive and realizing that the world is much more accessible via the internet (i.e., people from all over the world can buy its DVDs, iPPVs, t-shirts, etc.) the organization made a decision to have its wrestler make a real apology.
TNA Moves to 9pm while Bellator moves to Wednesdays
In a move that will have more ramifications than just the wrestling show, Spike TV has decided to move TNA’s Impact Wrestling to 9pm/8pm Central on Thursday nights starting May 30th. The network announced that Bellator would move to Wednesdays starting with its Summer Series in July.
Payout Take: Maybe its a move for daylight savings time as many people will be outside enjoying the extra daylight and not inside watching TNA. We will see how this will impact ratings. For Bellator fans, how will moving to Wednesday nights affect its programming? There was not much proven correlation between TNA as its lead-in as Impact had a bigger audience that seemingly tailed off once Bellator came on. Yet, having a strong lead-in may mean more viewers checking out the Bellator product.
March 22, 2013
Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post. This week we take a look back at a fight Dana White turned down, Wrestlemania is $70 and an interesting lawsuit involving the independent contractor/employee question.
Vince challenges Dana
One of the stories that was buried under the Nick Diaz press was Dana White revealing that Vince McMahon asked him to do a match with him at Wrestlemania 27 in Atlanta. Wrestlemania, the annual big event for the WWE usually pulls out all the stops including celebrity participation. Instead of White, the WWE had the Jersey Shore’s “Snooki” participate in a match. Previous celebrities included Donald Trump, Mike Tyson and host more. White smartly turned down the offer from McMahon.
Payout Take: Despite being different, the two organizations seem to always be connected. White seems to have respect for McMahon and perhaps vice versa. While we may criticize White for many business decisions, declining the spectacle that it would have been was the correct choice. Although it would have helped with UFC publicity, it would have made the two organizations synonymous which the UFC definitely does not want to do.
PPV model to go away but it will be $70 for Wrestlemania 29
WWE Chief Financial Officer George Barrios speaking to financial web site 4-traders.com indicated that the WWE’s pay per view model will eventually go away. This seems to be based on the hopes of the launch of the WWE Network which still does not have distributors or a launch date. Presently, the WWE plans to run its usual PPV events on the subscription based network with the exception of Wrestlemania in addition to running its events on regular PPV. However, Barrios believes that those PPV fans will “migrate” to the WWE Network. At some point, pay per view will eventually go away.
In the meantime, Wrestlemania 29 has been priced at $70 for the 4 hour event. This is a rise of $5 from last year and is on par with the Pacquiao-Marquez IV fight in December.
The WWE seems to have gone all in on the WWE Network as it appears that they are set on having a network which will do away with its PPVs. Obviously, the “migration” of its fans is key to its success. I tend to think that the WWE’s PPV business is just one revenue stream of its business now and that the statement should not be surprising.
As for the $70 for Wrestlemania, I would think that the UFC is looking at this and seeing how successful the event is in terms of buys to see if it could raise its price point in the future. I think that this would be unlikely in the near future but something it could look at down the road.
Former TNA Wrestler Daphne settles injury lawsuit
An interesting lawsuit was settled at mediation earlier this month as Former TNA wrestler, Daphne, decided to settle her case with TNA instead of moving forward to trial. If the former wrestler had moved to trial, the first issue that would have been decided was whether the wrestlers are independent contractors or employees.
Shannon Spruill, Daphne’s real name, sued TNA for medical bills exceeding $26,000 from an in-ring injury. According to Spruill, she was promised that her bills would be paid by TNA but in the end, they were not.
I will try to obtain a copy of the lawsuit (which I believe was filed in Tennessee state court) but the issue of independent contractor versus employee has come up again. The independent contractor status is something that has been used in professional wrestling to the detriment of the wrestlers. In MMA, most organizations, including the UFC, have its fighters as independent contractors and not employees. The UFC does offer its fighters under contract insurance which would have helped Spruill here. If Spruill and TNA had gone to trial on the issue of independent contractor/employee, it would have certainly raised some eyebrows if the court had decided she was an employee. Moreover, it would have opened up a ton of discussion (i.e., lawsuits) within the industry.