I LOVE questions and even more than that, I LOVE questions dealing with the notion of WHY. Why is it that WWE fans still tune into their show each week, knowing disappointment is about to greet them or WHY is TNA so low in ratings when they're clearly the better show or WHY does WWE still pack a house each year for Wrestlemania? I love that kind of question. Because it begs more than one sentence to answer.
When I talk to a lot of WWE viewers (there IS a difference between viewers and fans), they say they know WWE is going the way of all rubbish on the television landscape, but it's a part of their normal Monday night viewing routine. We humans are nothing if not a creature of habits. As for attendance? The numbers there are deceiving. Bear in mind that the NEW target audience is from about 8-10 to 35 or so. There are a LOT more families going to these events than some would guess. Combine a bunch of 8-10 year olds with a few parents that couldn't care less and you've got recent RAW crowds, dead to almost everything. To the point where Vince McMahon adjusts the entire premise behind Survivor Series after nearly having the entire PPV written out already.
Wrestlemania is HISTORY. Ask any person out on the street if they won tickets to Wrestlemania whether or not they'd be excited. Of COURSE they will. Why? Because it's like the Super Bowl or The NBA Finals or The Daytona 500 or The World Series......it's the biggest contest that features the most recognizable stars WWE puts out. Never mind that there are 28 so named events that traverse the United States in arenas across that map. So I ask YOU, why does WWE pack an arena each year for Wrestlemania? Could it have something to do with the spectacle of it all? Maybe it's the star power that inevitably shows up for such an event? How about the ability to say you've been there? For some, it's on their Bucket List.
As for ratings? Well, I think it best to tell you what ISN'T in the ratings. Streaming websites and YouTube, DVR....fact is, there are FAR MORE ways to watch TNA or WWE than are reflected in the Nielsen Ratings. SO, critics have no idea how many people are watching TNA the night they show up in Spike. They speculate, they tabulate the cross section they have and project across the map as to how many homes MIGHT be watching the product. BUT, if ratings are important to anyone reading, it might interest you to know that for the 12th week straight, Monday Night RAW has declined in their ratings. Since the 1000th episode of RAW, which touted a 4.02 rating. Since that time, they have been dropping gradually, landing THIS week at 2.7. Does anyone have an explanation?
I believe the decline has two parts. First, 3 hours is NOT working. Secondly and related to the first, there is too much show for not enough substance. TNA, by contrast, has other factors working against them. With their product hovering at and around the 1.0 mark, I tend to believe that advertising has been a struggle, combined with skepticism over critical reviews of the product in years past. It's been 2 years since the debacle that was Immortal first arrived and nearly a year since the head of creative was let go in favor of someone with a more reliable track record. Additionally, history has record of WWF exhibiting a far superior product to WCW nearly a year before things began to show up in the ratings. Now that TNA has reins in on a more consistently good product, I'm hopeful that ratings will follow.