Let’s hope the recent news that WWE is joining forces with ESPN does not mean the leader in sports television will be using time allotted to reruns of Sports Center to show us taped Monday Night Raw episodes that are already a week old.
Vince McMahon may need a helping hand pulling his company out of television ratings hell, but unless fans get a chance to see classic tape of old Jim Crockett Promotions shows featuring Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine in the infamous “Dog Collar Match” or Paul Jones and Jimmy Valiant in a “Hair versus Hair” match, trying to create the past is not going to do today’s version of wrestling any good.
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As Alfred Konuwa of Forbes.com wrote…
"During Tuesday’s edition of SportsCenter, ESPN announced a partnership with WWE to feature weekly segments of wrestling highlights. The partnership couldn’t have come at a better time for both industry-leading franchises."
"ESPN has been struggling with declining subscriber numbers and ratings. Ad revenue was off 3 percent in the three months ended June 27, according to the Wall Street Journal, which dissected the network’s troubles in detail here. ESPN’s ratings dip is tied in part to the rise in popularity of online streaming services like Netflix NFLX -2.02%, which is posing big problems for the television industry at large."
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McMahon, who revolutionized the business and has exhausted every type of match known to man, needs to think forward, not in the past. Here’s hoping ESPN and its host of networks might be able to do that.
Potential Game Changer
The partnership that has been created in the past week is said to be a “game changer” in how McMahon and his cronies will promote the best game in town. The decline in ratings for Monday Night Raw, accompanied by lost viewers during the week and for pay-per-view events is staggering. Plenty of that has to do with fans and apathy for a new version of the old scene that frankly, isn’t that good to begin with.
The other part of the equation is the beginning of the college football and NFL seasons – which have a broader audience to capitalize on – thus taking eyes away from John Cena’s United States Championship Open.
If WWE wanted to jump into the “sports” business and shy away from the “wrasslin” business, this is the best opportunity it has had in years to try something new and fresh. And with the changes which appear likely in TNA’s promotion, this might be a blessing for all concerned.
Now, with a weekly segment devoted to McMahon’s baby and Jonathan Coachman, a former WWE employee serving up a bionic elbow to help get the ball rolling, I suspect this will be another ratings move that could prove to be lucrative and dare I say it, successful.
Match made in Heaven
McMahon and WWE need this. Maybe ESPN needs it as well in some kooky way. The leader in sports joining forces with the man who has put sports entertainment on the map for the past 30 years seems like a marriage made in a semi-real sort of new form of reality television.
It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it is successful. McMahon has tried his hand at other ventures in the past to make money and improve the brands he owns. ESPN seems like a logical instrument to make that happen.
All it can do is help the cause – nothing ESPN touches turns to rust and for McMahon and WWE, he really needs the gold to shine brightly to save him from a ratings disaster that is not waiting to happen – it’s free falling before every wrestling fan’s eyes.