Maybe it wasn't such a crazy strategy after all...
PWInsider reports that the Friday night premiere of Impact Wrestling on Destination America on January 16th, the debut of the pre-taped, post-produced product in its regular 9PM Eastern time slot, drew 387,000 viewers - an 8% increase over their live debut the previous Wednesday, which had 359,000 watching.
It will be interesting to see how this holds, as any number of explanations are plausible for the number. Off the top of my head: they were right that wrestling fans associate Fridays with wrestling after years of Smackdown being on that night, more potential viewers are home and in the mood to check something out on a winter endweek evening than there might be in the Spring or Summer, the months of solid action and no-worse-than-anyone else's booking post-Hulk Hogan are paying off and/or this is a good estimate of the size of the audience that will follow Impact anywhere from which they can look to grow.
Being as this was the first or second show of Dixie Carter's 'reality'-influenced new direction, it's probably too early to tell what role if any that played in getting eyes on the show, but given how much Creative talked those elements up in the promotion of the move to their new cable home, it may also be a factor.
Regardless of the "why?", TNA and Destination America officials have to be pleased with that number. A huge overall drop was expected considering the much smaller penetration of the Discovery Communications owned channel compared to Viacom's Spike TV, Impact's previous network. But going to a "ratings graveyard" slot with a cheaper to produce pre-taped offering and growing your audience is a win, even if only in comparison to the alternatives.
Do you think TNA will be able to hold close to 400K viewers on a regular basis? Can they grow that number on DA?
What do you think, Cagesiders?