WWE released its second quarter 2020 financial results today. Profits are soaring, but that doesn’t mean everything is going according to plan. Raw ratings have seen a staggering decline during the coronavirus pandemic, to the point where it feels like the show is setting record low marks each week.
Vince McMahon was asked multiple questions about the ratings decline while on an investors’ call today. As he has said many times in the past, more interesting storylines and characters are needed:
“As far as ratings are concerned, more than any other sport...the audience is integral to our success and our television ratings. Again because interaction, or lack thereof. Not withstanding that, I think that we can have more compelling characters, better storylines, new characters coming in to where we are right now, and more content that’s not necessarily in the ring, but that focuses on our personalities and their story outside of the ring.”
Vince was directly asked why ratings for AEW and NXT have withstood COVID shock better than Raw. McMahon says it’s because they are the shiny new toys, and WWE needs to embrace youth:
“I think simply because they’re new. It’s something that’s new, and what have you. And it’s up to us to make Raw and SmackDown feel more youthful, and that is where we’re going....you always have to build characters, constantly. As far as Paul Levesque helping out on Raw and SmackDown, that happens, it’s all hands on deck in terms of all that we do.”
It turns out that Vince McMahon did not throw Paul Heyman under the bus:
“As far as Paul Heyman’s concerned, he did I thought a very very good job in terms of creativity.”
Finally, McMahon was asked if the ratings recovery timetable is closer to months or years.
“It just takes months. The key here is to be in front of an audience. That’s the main thing...they’re like a third person in the ring, so to speak. We shoot the audience a lot more than any sport, because they’re such an integral part to what we do. So, I would like to think it’s months away.”
Even though McMahon talked about presenting a more youthful product in the previous response, he seems to be putting most of his eggs in the ‘we need the audience back’ basket as far as reversing the ratings decline. That could be a big problem considering that we don’t have an indication of when audiences will return to pro wrestling due to the worsening nature of the coronavirus pandemic in most parts of the United States of America.
There’s no doubt that the lack of an audience significantly hurts wrestling television shows, but it doesn’t really explain why Raw’s ratings in particular have declined at a higher rate than other wrestling shows that also do not have an audience. That McMahon acknowledges the need for a more youthful product is encouraging, but considering that we just had a television main event of Randy Orton vs. Big Show ten days ago on Raw, this is one of those cases where “I’ll believe it when I see it”, as far as a youth movement in WWE is concerned.
What do you think of Vince McMahon’s response to declining ratings on Raw?