Okay, we've gotten out of the Impact Zone and into the open water...the question is "what now?" Over the past couple of years, I've touched on a few business side items that would help (i.e. second show, etc.) and also been keeping track of TNA's progress in terms of numbers. For starters, TNA has never enjoyed such success, putting up 3-5,000 fans at each event to date SINCE Lockdown. Does this mean they've made it? Not by a long shot, but with Vince making even more sweeping changes to further tone down the WWE product, I can only believe this to mean good things for companies like Ring of Honor, CHIKARA, Dragon Gate, and TNA. Wrestling fans love wrestling. Simple as that. When the top dog isn't willing to provide that, some will simply fall away, which is truly a shame, but others will look around to find there ARE other promotions that will offer a great show for only a portion of what they already sacrifice to see.
I've said it many times before, but TNA is now what WWE WAS shortly following the Attitude Era. I could site examples and turn this into a column about comparison/ contrast, but that isn't what I want to talk about here. The question I ask you all.....WHAT NOW? What comes next in TNA's growth path? What are they ready for? What do they need to hold off on?
I said nearly two years ago that once TNA could gain a more secured following, they'd be able to travel the road with their show. As it turns out, they decided to go this thing on faith a bit earlier than I expected, but in their current state, they've turned out some pretty impressive crowds, for TNA standards, anyway. SO, now that they've begun making new friends by going to THEM, the next question on THAT front is.....can they make the jump LIVE week to week or do they keep things as they are for a time? If I were a business planner, I would tell them to stay the course. They've already given the product a facelift from a production quality standpoint, taken the show on the road with a semi-live broadcast schedule, brought in a new format for choosing new talents that involves the ever changing fanbase, and built a more stable roster. This might be a good time to sit back and rest in the success for a season.....for the real work is to come.
TNA NEEDS more TV time and they need it within the next couple of years, otherwise they run the risk of losing some of the talents and acquisitions they've worked so hard to secure contracts for and fans won't get to see them shine on the bigger spotlight they've scored. Spike TV is a good home for TNA and I don't think that needs to change. Why? Because anyone who believes that the network makes any difference at all has a very inaccurate rearview of history. WWE held nearly the EXACT same time slot on Spike on Monday nights for about 5 years and they outperformed their current ratings on a consistent basis. In fact, some would call their stint on Spike an even harder situation as this was during the retooling of the network from TNN to their current incarnation. Often times there is a ratings recession during a network reformatting. There was when G4 and TECH TV merged. There also was when the Sci Fi Channel went to their current SYFY format. What's the point of all this? There are some out there who claim that TNA needs to leave behind Spike TV in favor of a "more visible" channel, but this is, quite simply, in error for just some of the reasons stated.
I believe I've said enough for THIS column, but there is plenty more to be said for business strategy and I will elaborate on where TNA can afford to expand. Until then, I will keep saying what I always do.....watch the patterns.