Tim Rose: It is Not My Job to Fix the WWE

This isn’t an anti-WWE rant. I’m not anti-WWE. I primarily cover the WWE because I primarily watch the WWE and I primarily enjoy the WWE. When the WWE hits a homerun, it hits a homerun like no other wrestling company could ever dream of and I’d be stupid not to accept that. I’m not anti-WWE. I’m pro-consumer and I believe in holding companies responsible when there’s a problem.

I’ve seen dozens upon dozens of people say that it’s weird when a fan gives advice to a “billion-dollar company” on how to fix their problems. I agree with them. The WWE has figures and statistics that we don’t have. A former writer for this site once said that you don’t have to be in the business to be an “educated fan,” and I rolled my eyes so hard that the Earth skipped back a day and I had to read it all over again. You can’t be an “educated fan” without all the information. However, I don’t need to run a restaurant to know that when I see a car parked inside of an IHOP that something went wrong.

“Johnny, does something seem out of place to you? I’ve never ran a million-dollar fast food franchise before so I can’t tell.”

What I do is point out how the car parked on top of someone’s grandma is definitely hindering business. How they back that car out and hide the body is completely up to them — if they even do. Instead of asking “why would a fan offer a billion-dollar company advice on how to fix their problems,” what we should be asking is “why do I think it’s a fan’s job to fix a billion-dollar company’s problems?” I don’t offer advice because I don’t have all the information, but also because it’s not my fucking job.

Here’s an example:

You can’t bring up WWE’s PG business model without people bringing up McDonald’s. The analogy being that they’re trying to hook the children like Happy Meals do because then the parents must make two purchases: one for themselves and one for their kids. Yeah, but what that analogy is failing to mention is that McDonald’s has an entire menu that appeals to adults and only a few for specifically children.

It’s also failing to mention how that business model makes zero sense when you consider that – according to the WWE’s own numbers – only 6% of fans have children who are also fans. SIX PERCENT. So, we’re either arguing that the WWE’s current PG rating is an utter failure, or that it is successful because their master plan was to only appeal to 6% of their market?

But the WWE gladly and cheerfully lets you make that analogy knowing that it’s broken because its easier than admitting that what they’re doing isn’t working. No, I don’t know how to fix their problem, and no, I don’t know what they’re doing wrong. But it is a problem, nonetheless. Here’s an example of that:

They have an average fan that is well over 40-50 years old. Again, that’s according to the WWE’s own numbers they put out. Then, the argument is brought up that people are “cutting the cord.” This is true overall, but the WWE gets significantly less revenue from Hulu and YouTube than they do television licensing. Meaning, again, either the model isn’t working or they successfully made less money… like they wanted to all along? “Success!” People who left cable television should have the option to watch the show somewhere, so it is better for the WWE to pick them up on Hulu than losing them as an audience all together, however

Credit: @GregMParks

That’s a picture of this week’s house show that went head-to-head with Monday Night RAW. This isn’t a bad RAW rating or people YouTubing a house show. Quickly people on the internet jumped to rationalize this: “Of course it did poorly, they scheduled a house show during their flagship show.” The only problem with this rationalization is that the WWE has literally done this for decades without any problems. The demographic of 50+ year olds would rather watch superstars from the 1990’s and early 2000s than any of the Smackdown wrestlers of today. The people who are “cutting the cord” either don’t exist or make up such a small margin of WWE’s fanbase that a show that doesn’t feature anyone from yesteryear couldn’t sell out enough people to fill in the front rows. Nostalgia is powerful and the WWE used it to defeat one of its own shows. They don’t care if Lil’ Jimmy’s parents bought him tickets for his birthday. We need to stop rationalizing their problems when the WWE themselves don’t even see it as a problem. That’s the problem.

Excusing the problem as “of course a house show didn’t sell well during a RAW television show” dismisses the fact that someone working for the WWE absolutely thought this was going to sell well or they wouldn’t have scheduled them together. The WWE has had decreasing ticket sales throughout the past two years with no signs of them ever picking up again. They’ve been cancelling shows left and right lately and I want to reiterate that:

“I’m hungry, want to drive straight into an iHOP’s wall after the show?” Credit: @GregMParks

This was a show they thought was doing well enough not to cancel, so you must wonder how empty the other arenas had to have been to justify cancelling them.

They want the fans to make excuses for them and defend them to anyone who comes off as even slightly anti-WWE because they don’t have a way to fix these problems themselves. When asked about the low ratings, the WWE responded officially by saying that people are finding new ways to take in the experience AKA “cutting the cord.” Now fans regurgitate that line in defense of WWE. They’re counting on the fact that most fans don’t realize that they’re just repeating the problem using different words and it doesn’t offer an answer.

Fans: What are you planning on doing about your low sales and low ratings?

WWE: Well, people are finding new ways to enjoy the WWE product.

Media: Right but…. Okay, that didn’t really answer my question.

WWE: Ratings are down because people who bring the ratings up are watching the show in ways that don’t bring the ratings up.

Media: … Oh… uh… Thank you?

Or

Cop: Sir, did you just murder this man?

WWE: This man found new ways not to live after I thrusted a knife through his heart.

Cop: So, you did in fact murder him?

Hulu has been a thing for over a decade and it wasn’t affecting RAW’s ratings until recently? There’s a car parked inside of WWE’s restaurant and WWE is ignoring it. Fans are defending it like it really spruces up the place. Does anyone else find this car parked inside WWE’s lobby to be weird?

@timrosetweeting

Previous Columns:

WWE Wants Your Money For Nothing In Return
Bad Storylines You Shouldn’t Forget
Interesting Backstage Stories You May Not Know

Citations:
RAW Ratings
WWE’s Demographic Numbers
WWE House Show’s Empty Arena

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