The big news coming out of WWE's 2010 second quarter financial results is that like TNA, WWE's PPV business is in the toilet. Over The Limit drew 197,000 buys, which is pretty poor but not disastrous. Extreme Rules did even worse drawing 182,000 buys, which is close to rock bottom. Fatal Four Way was an unmitigated disaster, drawing a measly 143,000 buys, which means that it had the second lowest buy rate in company history.
To put these numbers into perspective, let's compare with the same quarter last year excluding WrestleMania, which was in the first quarter this year and as we already know, was down 7.8% in buys from last year despite a much more focused promotional build for the show, due to competition from UFC 111 that weekend. The four non-WrestleMana PPV shows last year drew a total of 801,000 buys, which means that total buys were down 34.8% from the prior year. Total PPV event revenue showed a slightly smaller decline of 28.8% from $14.6 million to $10.4 million, due to the recent $5 increase in the price of WWE PPVs domestically. Part of this decline was due to running one less PPV, but not all, as the average number of buys this year was 174,000 compared with 200,250 last year, a significant decline of 13.1%.
So what can we attribute these lousy results to. A cocktail of factors. UFC has been on a real roll since March with one strong PPV line up after another, which can't help. Clearly the Extreme Rules and Fatal Four Way PPV gimmick concepts didn't capture the imagination of the buying public. WWE may also be paying the price for focusing so much of the WrestleMania build on people who weren't going to be around for the long haul. After all, Shawn Michaels was retiring, The Undertaker usually needs the spring and summer off, Batista was unhappy and about to quit, Bret Hart's a stroke victim who shouldn't be in the ring, Vince McMahon was blowing off his character for his wife's benefit and Triple H was soon to be taking time off to film movies. You also have to question building Extreme Rules and Over The Limit primarily around WrestleMania rematches, given that they've been doing that for years to dwindling returns. Finally, they did an awful job of hyping the Raw and Smackdown main events of the Fatal Four Way PPV to the point that there was much more interest and intrigue in people who weren't involved in the matches (Nexus and Kane, respectively).