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Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - WWE's Ratings DO Matter, Bayley's WWE Struggles, and More
By Mr. Tito
Aug 10, 2017 - 12:56:53 AM

Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter.com: @titowrestling

Bookmark Mr. Tito's Column Archive to read the current and past columns.

Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING by Mr. Tito exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. I just LOVE the RAW ratings reports these days... We're just BARELY above 3.0 million with the WWE giving away Pay Per View-like matches for FREE on RAW (Roman vs. Braun this week, 3 Way Dance last week) and heading into SummerSlam 2017. Oh yeah, we've had Brock Lesnar around a lot more often to hype Great Balls of Fire and SummerSlam match-ups.

Oh boy... 100,000 to 300,000 above 3.0 million on a few recent shows... Congrats. You got me.

But you see, folks, I'm an investor who likes to take LONG positions... If you looked at my stock portfolio and 401K, you'll see a lot of patience. I don't try to buy something with a low price and selling high during a short period of time. I invest in something that I believe will hold value over time and also increase in value 5-10 years from now. Then, I could consider selling if I believe that the price has peaked.

The FACT is that following the 2016 Brand Extension, the WWE has REPEATEDLY been UNDER 3.0 Million during the latter half of 2016 and for big chunks of 2017 including consecutive weeks after Wrestlemania 33, the biggest WWE show of the year. If RAW didn't feature part-time veterans like Bill Goldberg, Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Triple H on many of those RAW shows, we'd have many more shows UNDER 3.0 million. That said, having those stars appear and recently having Pay Per View like matches, we're BARELY above 3.0 million.

WWE's DEAD ZONE of the year is coming soon where Brock Lesnar disappears and there are no major Pay Per Views until Royal Rumble in January. Don't count Survivor Series, as that show is not what it used to be... September through December have provided the WWE's biggest period of fan erosion for the last 4 years. The National Football League (NFL) is coming back as competition on Mondays as are other shows beginning their new seasons. Unless Cena has something to film (Transformers spinoff?), I bet that the "free agent" moves to RAW and I legitimately believe that Superstar Shake-up #2 will happen or at least a few wrestlers will be shifted to RAW from Smackdown. If the WWE were wise, they'd take my advice and #ReuniteTheShield to give all of us something to root for during this period of time.

On the WWE Network, the Monday Night Wars shows are great and they feature many wrestler perspectives in that timeframe. In particular, I enjoyed what former Four Horsemen member Arn Anderson said about WCW Nitro. If fact, he was critical of his former World Championship Wrestling (WCW) promotion and its bookers. Specifically, he suggested that WCW was "burning through matches quickly" as they gave away many big match-ups for FREE on WCW Nitro while quickly having blow-off matches on Pay Per Views. Unlike the WWE during 1996-1998, WCW didn't have that defining show. Sure, Starrcade was their oldest show, but every Pay Per View was treated like a big deal and it always had the biggest matches possible. Contrast that to WWE where they always saved their bigger match-ups for the "Big 4" (Rumble, Wrestlemania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series) while having lesser match-ups or tag matches on the In Your House smaller Pay Per Views. Thus, the WWE didn't burn out their fanbase AS QUICK on unique match-ups.

Don't believe me?

- 7/17/17 RAW: #1 WWE Universal Title Contendership between Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns
- 7/24/17 RAW: #1 Women's Title Contendership between Bayley vs. Sasha Banks, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins team up for the first time in a while
- 7/31/17 RAW: Triple Threat: Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe (I'd argue Big Cass vs. Big Show)
- 8/7/17 RAW: Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns - Last Man Standing

We've also had quick-fix storylines like WHO is attacking Enzo Amore and WHAT is Kurt Angle worried about? Seriously, folks, the WWE gave Kurt Angle a freakin' son in Jason Jordan. Weeks of hyping both up and the delivery was "meh".

It should be noted that I've been very critical of how "Infomercial-like" that both RAW & Smackdown have been... However, my criticisms were based on LAME storylines and a lack of detail & attention, not matches. Also, the lack of build for anything midcard. If you look back in the history of wrestling, a promotion's growth is only as big as the success of the midcard. The Main event is the last 30 minutes of your show... What about the rest of the 2 and a half hours? Hotshotting Pay Per View like matches for FREE is NOT how you do it and it hurts the WWE Network's value. Frankly, I'm shocked that the WWE hasn't made Brock Lesnar wrestle on RAW yet. I wouldn't be surprised if that was discussed.

I'm patient, folks... We're just BARELY above 3.0 million viewers for RAW despite these big match-ups, Brock Lesnar burning through his appearances, and the SummerSlam (the #2 show) hype. Once SummerSlam is over, Lesnar takes his vacation, and the match-ups are exhausted (unless John Cena moves to RAW), "permanently under 3.0 million" will begin to set in.

And you just know that ol' Bad Tito will write that "I TOLD YOU SO" column when that happens.

Just remember, we've repeatedly been "under 3.0 million" since the great 2016 Brand Extension and more than that, we've been barely above 3.0 million when the WWE gives us their absolute best efforts with part-time veterans appearing on the show. You can mock me all you want for right now, but you KNOW that I'm right once SummerSlam 2017 is over. You know it and that's what disgusts as a hater of my column. You know that I'm right and it hurts... Many of you have settled into eating Vince McMahon's crap sandwiches and have accepted Roman Reigns as the wrestling Lord & Savior. Thus, when I repeatedly remind you that WWE was doing 4.0 million viewers as recent as early 2015, it cuts deep for the WWE sheep.

If that's not an indication of the pending doom for the WWE, particularly from years of pushing the WRONG wrestlers as Main Eventers (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Jinder Mahal, & Randy Orton), in addition to lower television viewership, attendance for Live Events (particularly houseshows) is down while WWE Network subscriptions have peaked... Big drop from the 1st Quarter to 2nd Quarter on the subscriber count with many analysts suggesting that the 3rd Quarter will see another decline.

Go ahead and mock me... I enjoy it because the facts are on my side. Post SummerSlam 2017 is going to be PAINFUL for the WWE. I'm willing to bet that we'll see a "full court press" for Wrestlemania 34 with lots of veteran involvement again but what happens after that? Will Brock Lesnar rejoin the WWE once his contract expires? What will happen to the WWE's television deal when that expires in 2019 (negotiations begin during late 2018)?

"Permanently Under 3.0 Million" is coming and the only way that the WWE climbs out of that hole is if a TRUE replacement for a top drawing Main Event is found. NOT Roman Reigns, but someone from WWE's developmental ashes or a free agent from another promotion needs to make it huge. That's the only way out... Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and John Cena on top have helped carry the promotion and the rest fell into place. Without stars like those 3 (maybe the Rock, too, but he always had Austin), WWE needs a more collective effort within their roster. However, they neglect the midcard (especially Tag Teams), haven't cared much about the US/IC Titles, and are beginning to fumble on the Women's Divisions. Many of the Upper Midcarders right now are too similar and are not unique enough, yet, to break out. I still hold hope that Braun Strowman is the closest to becoming a strong top guy if he (a) wins the 2018 Rumble Match and (b) defeats Lesnar cleanly at Wrestlemania 34.

But I fully expect that Vince McMahon won't give up pushing Roman Reigns despite the loads of "booking welfare" handed to him. How is he NOT over after going over CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Triple H, and Undertaker 100% clean?

Keep pushing Roman if you want to accept 3 million or fewer viewers of RAW. Go right ahead...

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Over on Smackdown, they (a) gave away WWE Champion Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton for FREE and (b) gave Randy Orton the NON-TITLE win over Jinder Mahal.

Huh?

Non-title matches, particularly for the top World Championship. That's ridiculous. FINGER OF SHAME! As absurd as I believe that Jinder Mahal is as WWE Champion, NOBODY and I repeat NOBODY should EVER lose a non-title match in ANY combat promotion. I don't see UFC hosting "non-title" matches, nor do I see Boxing doing that as well. When their champions fight, it's for real and the prize of being #1 in their sport. There are no nights off... As my buddy Chrisssssssss would say, "LAZY BOOKING". This will somehow grant a rematch between Jinder and Orton. Oh joy. Why not put it in a ridiculous cage that is difficult to watch?

And how did Smackdown do with Jinder vs. Orton headlining the show?

Actually, viewership went up and Smackdown has been holding steady at 2.5 million or slightly above since the July 4th show. I'm sure fans are beginning to enjoy Jinder Mahal as WWE Champion.

It wouldn't be the top draw John Cena returning... Going from an average of 2.3 million to just above 2.5 million in the last 4 weeks.

Nah, we can never give John Cena credit, eh Internet?

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Everybody is trying to assess what's wrong with Bayley and why she didn't succeed on the WWE main stage.

As I discussed in another column, I'll suggest that she "peaked" just 2 years ago at NXT Takeover Brooklyn #1. I know, that's really mean to say, but all you have to watch are those vignettes that showed her working her way up the ladder by defeating Emma, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch to earn the #1 contendership for the NXT Women's Title against Sasha Banks. Then, that match between Bayley and Sasha was my and many other publications' "Match of the Year" for 2015. It was spectacular. Both followed that up with a great 30 Minute Ironman match, but that was a second helping of the greatness we already saw at Takeover.

I think that Bayley just doesn't have the "fire" as she did during 2015. That simple. If you go back to 2015, WWE's Women's Division was NOT what you see today. The Divas Revolution was still new but the ladies weren't fully integrated into WWE programming and accepted by mainstream WWE fans just yet. Effectively, NXT's Women's Division was the LEGITIMATE women's division during 2014-2015. Again, Bayley had to beat Emma, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte just to earn that #1 contendership against Sasha Banks.

She peaked and had an amazing career moment at NXT Takeover #1 during August 2015. In my opinion as well, that was Sasha Banks peaking as well. WWE has been using her as a babyface despite Sasha's amazing heel work in NXT. Now, she's a punching bag for another NXT call-up named Nia Jax.

So, you can quit blaming Vince McMahon for "ruining Bayley". Maybe Bayley's heart just isn't into it because she already had her big moment in pro wrestling at NXT Takeover #1 during 2015.

Bayley needs a challenge. She needs something to bring that "fire" back. The question is this: can she portray herself as an effective HEEL? I think maybe she's too nice of a human being to find darkness to execute that heel role.

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THE LAST WORD

I keep hearing the excuse of "cord cutters" hurting Monday Night RAW's television viewers. Did you know that the WWE has MORE households during 2017 than it did 20 years ago at the start of the Attitude Era? Total Housesholds during the late 1990s was between 70 and 80 million yet WWE RAW was able to pull in 6-7 million viewers per show through 1999. Right now, USA Networks broadcasts to between 90-95 million households yet has HALF of that viewership.

Hmmmm... The math just doesn't add up.

And if you want to suggest that there are "more options to choose from back then", then let me counter your argument. Studies show that more of the desired 18-25 aged persons are STAYING HOME now more than ever. That age group was more active in leaving their houses during the evening, participating in sports, and getting out of the house quickly to obtain a full time career while living on their own. During 1997-1999, don't act like we were living in caveman years... The Internet DID exist. We played Nintendo 64 and Playstation. We had many Cable channels to watch back then. I remember watching HBO and Showtime during the early 1990s... Worse yet, the National Football League (NFL) was on ABC and had better match-up. Monday Night Football's viewership dwarfed what ESPN is doing right now. Additionally, WWE had a legitimate competitor in WCW Nitro challenging them weekly (although, that could have helped with viewership).

But here's a BOLD prediction for you... The big Corporations that own and operate Cable/Satellite will "get theirs". ASK YOURSELF THIS... Why would AT&T be so willing to buy DirecTV and also Time Warner's entertainment division? Why else would Time Warner's cable/broadband have so much interest when it went on sale? If Cable/Satellite is dying, why is there still big money being thrown around? Why would AT&T specifically want to get into this market with major investments? They were doing OK with being one of the Big 4 phone companies.

In case you haven't noticed lately, Netflix streaming service has a few threats coming their way:

(a) Disney is pulling out of their content deal early with Netflix and Disney may start-up their own streaming service instead.

(b) Netflix reportedly has $20.54 billion in debt & obligations. Article says it all.

(c) As Wedbush's Michael Pachter has repeatedly preached about Neflix for years now, and I give him credit... Netflix's biggest liability is the fact that they do NOT own their own content. Majority of their content is owned by other companies with a few exceptions. Thus, Neflix is effectively leasing content... But if Netflix is Cable/Satellite's biggest threat, wouldn't content providers for Cable/Satellite have an incentive to overprice their content to lease? I'm sure that Neflix is "paying through their nose" right now to acquire new content while retaining bigger shows (like Breaking Bad). Remember, one of the reasons why Netflix's price went up from $7.99 to $9.99 was the Disney deal... Are we getting our money back because the Disney deal is over?

(d) Net Neutrality. If the Trump administration's FCC deregulates that policy, it allows for Comcast, Spectrum, Fios, AT&T, and other Internet Service Providers to begin charging by largest bandwidth used instead of everybody equally or restricting what they can charge streaming services (also thank you to Pachter for a better understanding of that). Reportedly, Netflix does share some of its revenue with Comcast in good faith because during peak periods of the day, Netflix owns the majority of bandwidth in the United States during a given day.

And what are you seeing with Cable/Satellite channels lately? TRYING TO STREAM THEMSELVES... If you own Cable/Satellite, you can essentially stream most of it with your phone. Also, there exists Sling TV which is like an internet streaming version of a Cable/Satellite package owned by Dish which has about 2 million subscribers.

IN MY OPINION, if Cable/Satellite can break the GRIDLOCK of these Cable "packages" where you are forced to pay about $30-50 per month for a basic grouping of 60 channels, they could compete quite well. MY ISSUE with Cable/Satellite and why I specifically CUT the cord with Comcast Cable during August 2015 was the FACT that I was paying for channels that I didn't want or need. If I could pay for specific channels, which would be maybe 5-10 channels behind the basic NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX, I'd be fine. Instead, I'm forced to overpay for a grouping of channels, many of which I'll never watch in my life. To me, Cable/Satellite are very similar to College campuses. With your Bachelor's Degree, you have to take a bunch of classes that aren't relevant. For example, I had to take a Foreign Language for my Arts & Science degree in Economics. Why? It's almost as if that Arts & Science college is keeping those Foreign Language classes alive. Ditto for other classes that I had to take to complete the hours of my degree. SAME THING goes with Cable... I'm overpaying for channels that I never want to watch.

Because the 1990s and 2000s saw an expansion of Cable channels that resembles a housing bubble, there may need to be a channel "crash" to correct the market. There's just too many channels and Cable/Satellite are able to price gouge you by requiring you to pay for packages. I should be able to pay for specific channels that *I* want to watch. For example, I'd want ESPN and the NFL Network but I'm sure many non-sports fans wouldn't want to pay for those channels. Let me pay for the channels individually! In addition to my ABC, NBC, FOX, and NBC basics, I'd probably want ESPN (just the main one), TBS, TNT, AMC, and USA Networks... Mrs. Tito would probably want Lifetime. WHY CAN'T I JUST PAY FOR THOSE CHANNELS?!? And the thing is that Congress has reviewed a few Bill possibilities to allow consumers to purchase channels individually (or a la carte). However, what always happens is that special interest groups hammer politicians to kill that Bill. Religious groups fight to keep their channels, big Corporations fight to keep their channels, etc. Pressure it put on politicians to keep the Cable packages alive and the Cable/Satellite deals help to SUBSIDIZE channels that people normally wouldn't buy.

Where Netflix has the ultimate advantage, however, and that is that they have NO COMMERCIALS airing with their content. Cable/Satellite has DVR and they also have On-Demand services to watch their content on your own convenient time. However, the advantage of Netflix is displaying shows 100% free of commercials. BOY IS THAT NICE! I can do things like watch the entire series of Breaking Bad in a matter of weeks or The Office during an entire month as I did during August 2015 (when I officially "cut the cord"). That's a major reason why I stopped watching RAW on the USA Network for 3 hours... You have many, many commercials shoved down your throat during those 3 hours! Being honest here, Hulu keeps most of RAW/Smackdown in tact because they are basically reducing the amount of time that commericals have bloated the shows.

I actually believe that Netflix may have "peaked" and could either see serious challenges in future years or be acquired by a Cable/Satellite channel. Only Amazon Prime could challenge the old system in place, but then again, Amazon isn't an Internet Service Provider to provide internet access to customers. In case you haven't noticed, Cable/Satellite companies in the United States own the MAJORITY OF THEM. Then you look at something like Hulu which is partly owned by Disney, FOX, Comcast, and Time Warner... Gee, those companies seem to either be big content providers to Netflix or they own a good bit of the bandwidth that Netflix hoards to themselves.

Don't count out Cable/Satellite just yet... Those companies still own the majority of the Internet Services provided to anyone streaming in the United States. They are attempting to evolve their business models to compete and if they further change their practices (allowing YOU to full customize the channel section), they'll win many cutters back. In fact, if you (a) allowed for customers to buy only the channels they want and (b) give them the option to pay a fee for NO commercials on non-live content, I believe that you'll win many customers back. Netflix is CHEAP at just $9.99 per month, their content is convenient to watch whenever consumers want, and has ZERO commercials to endure.

Even with "Cord Cutters", the WWE has just above 90 million households with the USA Network. That is STILL higher than the 1990s and early 2000s witness and yet those periods of time had higher viewership. Also, those periods of time had more Pay Per View buys and more butts in seats at live events. It's AN EXCUSE given by the WWE to deny that the quality of the WWE broadcasts has declined since 2000. Furthermore, studies are showing that the median age of the average WWE viewer has increased... Seems that the audience of the WWE are loyal fans from the Attitude Era, just older. Remember, I started writing for LordsofPain.net during October 1998 and I was in my late teens then. I'm in my late 30s now and there are many fans like me who just hanging on...

Big Corporations like Comcast, AT&T, Disney, and FOX will not be willing to let Netflix to beat them. They'll overcharge for leasing content to Netflix and potentially charge more to Netflix for using more bandwidth. Furthermore, Cable/Satellite companies will keep trying to evolve to resemble Netflix. It wouldn't surprise me, if one of those big companies acquire Netflix, but I don't believe Cable/Satellite can do it if they stick to their old business model of forcing customers to buy channels that they don't want.

Customer choice is a great thing... If Cable/Satellite big corporations who are behind content creation and hosting internet services can just evolve and modernize, it's over for Netflix.

Television is 35% of the WWE's revenues... WWE needs the $150 to $200 million just in the United States deal alone to survive. They cannot go 100% online because Social Media and YouTube still don't draw the numbers that television still does for WWE programming.

Ratings and television deals DO MATTER and I believe that you'll see the end of Netflix or the acquisition of them in our near lifetimes. I hope not, as I've crushed MANY shows on Netflix. Want a sample of shows that I've inhanled:

- Orange is the New Black
- House of Cards
- DareDevil
- Jessica Jones
- Luke Cage
- The Office
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,
- Ozark
- Dexter
- Better Call Saul
- Wentworth

But he middle ground between Netflix and Satellite companies is Hulu, the streaming service owned by the Big 4 content and cable providers. I'm already there...

SO JUST CHILL... 'TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!

Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.

© Mr. Tito and LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com - 1998-2017

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