Why Stephanie McMahon is actually listening to the fans Submitted by Joseph Bachman on 09/16/2018 at 05:02 PM
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Why Stephanie McMahon is actually listening to the fans
By J.D. Bachman
On Wednesday, Stephanie McMahon proclaimed that the main reason for the WWE's continued success was because they "listen to their audience". This statement drew criticism from internet fans faster than Scott Steiner can butcher the English language.
However, contrary to popular belief, she's not wrong -- and here's why.
According to a recent study by Fluent LLC, more viewers now subscribe to a streaming service than they do cable television. In a related study, a TDG Research market analysis report revealed that 40 percent of Americans will cut out cable entirely by the year 2030.
What does this have to do with WWE audience satisfaction? The simple, and profitable idea of marketing quantity over quality, which equates to choice.
While I can concur with many disgusted fans that the product on the flagship show is mediocre at best, sans a gut-busting laugh at Brie Bella and her twice attempted and botched suicide dive, Raw simply doesn't represent the complete spectrum of the company.
Enter the WWE Network.
Five years ago, would you ever envision guys like Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Aleister Black, Ricochet, and Keith Lee on the WWE payroll? How about a 32 competitor tournament featuring all women with a focus solely on wrestling, or a show that highlights the best talents in the UK? Quit lying to yourself -- none of this was fathomable under Vince's umbrella half a decade ago...but here we are.
What the WWE has done is created a larger universe in which fans of all types can freely move around in.
With cable ratings not as effective as they once were, the company drives its revenue to investors based on network subscriptions, merchandise sales, and TV deals. (Keep in mind that even low ratings compared to years before is still considered high in today's cable-cutting era)
Any fan, for the cost of two coffees a month can have access to NXT, NXTUK, 205 Live, The Mae Young Classic, and I will predict that an all-women's show will come in 2019 that will carry the rumored women's tag team titles. This doesn't account for the massive WCW and ECW libraries, as well as all major shows, which now combines both brands.
Triple H is clearly on the proper pulse of the industry, and this is why our favorite independent darlings, (too many to name here) are now on some form of WWE television -- just as many internet fans have clamored for.
Look, I'm not a Roman Reigns fan, either. I tend to watch Raw with my eyes half-rolled; between general awful writing, the dilapidation of Braun Strowman, the misuse and ill-treatment of guys like Kevin Owens and Finn Balor, and the utter slap in the the face to the 'women's revolution' when say Nikki Bella picks up a win over Ruby Riott.
However, it simply isn't the entire picture the WWE has painted, even if it pains me to admit it. On top of all that is offered on the Network, we still have a brand in Smackdown that between Styles/Joe, Charlotte/Lynch, and Rusev Day/New Day, has been at the very least, consistent and entertaining.
Paul Heyman once said in an interview for the 'Rise and Fall of ECW' documentary about the guiding mantra of Extreme Championship Wrestling; "accentuate the positives, and hide the negatives" -- As a fan, you now get to decide what that means for your personal tastes.
Now this doesn't mean the WWE product is fantastic, and it doesn't mean that fans shouldn't give their time and money into promotions like New Japan, Lucha Underground, and Ring of Honor -- because they very much should -- but I think it's safe to say that the WWE have given the fans what most watching television in the 21st century have long asked for -- choice.