MR. TITO: Time for AEW to GROW UP Submitted by Mr. Tito on 09/07/2020 at 11:33 PM
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Let's conduct a Math experiment... AEW Dynamite versus WWE Monday Night RAW during the week of August 10th (date selected before they were pre-empting AEW Dynamite due to NBA Basketball). Here are the specific ratings (using my 0.4 Rating = 461,000 viewers ratio):
WWE RAW 8/10/2020
18-49 Demo: 0.47 on Average or approximately 545,517 Viewers
18-34 Demo: 0.22 on Average or approximately 249,708 Viewers 34-49 Demo: 0.26 on Average or approximately 295,808 Viewers
50+ Demo: 0.85 on Average or approximately 979,625 Viewers
AEW Dynamite 8/12/2020
18-49 Demo: 0.32 Rating or approximately 368,800 Viewers
18-34 Demo: 0.18 Rating or approximately 207,450 Viewers 34-49 Demo: 0.14 Rating or approximately 161,350 Viewers
50+ Demo: 0.26 Rating or approximately 299,650 Viewers
CREDIT to ShowBizDaily.com for the ratings!
I want you to focus in on the youngest demographic, 18 to 34 years of age. Of all of the Demographics, ONLY that demo is close between WWE Monday Night RAW and AEW Dynamite. Otherwise, RAW dominates AEW Dynamite on the older demographics by significant margins. Hence why AEW Dynamite draws around 800,000 viewers per week and why RAW now draws around 1.8 million.
That's important... If AEW could attract the same OLDER wrestling fans that the WWE attracts (median age of 52 for their current viewers, reported Forbes a few years ago), AEW Dynamite could seriously challenge the WWE as the #1 promotion.
AEW has put all of their eggs into the YOUNGER audience and you can clearly see that with their product.
How many times must Matt Hardy get legitimately injured from Chairs or Tables before AEW realizes how unsafe their wrestling product is? Matt is a 45 year old wrestler who has a ton of mileage on his tires from not just an extensive wrestling career but one filled with Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches (oh my!) and other hardcore matches.
27 year old Sammy Guevara has repeatedly injured Matt Hardy and if you look at the wrestling style that Sammy prefers, it's hardcore matches that Matt Hardy was working regularly 20 years ago. Sammy's age means that he was born during 1993 and thus was very young when Monday Night Wars was heating up but he would have been a 6-7 year old when Hardy began jumping off ladders. Meanwhile, the tail end of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) was still around and the Independent scene had many, many ECW clones. TNA would start up and continue that spotfest tradition as well.
Sammy is not alone... Darby Allin is 27, Joey Janella is 31, Marco Stunt is 24.
Many of the wrestlers acquired for AEW were pulled from the Independent scene which was heavily influenced by the later years of the WWE Attitude Era (which had those TLC Matches and other violent matches), later years of ECW, and TNA's X Division style wrestling. WCW influence of using smaller wrestlers for spotfests on their Cruiserweight Division is also wrapped in there.
The younger wrestling fans are in that boat, too... For any fan born during the 1990s, they were just starting to notice wrestling during 1999-2000 when wrestling began to get more reliant on spotfests, Tables/Ladders/Chairs, and other forms of senseless violence. Thus, fans in that upper portion of the 18-34 Demographic are accustomed and expecting of this style of wrestling. It's normal to them.
So... When you watch AEW wrestling, what do you see? Excessive spots, table spots often, and other forms of senseless violence. They are laser focused on appealing to that 18-34 demographic because that's the 1 number remotely close to any of WWE RAW's numbers.
Meanwhile, 50+ year-olds are completely repulsed by AEW Dynamite as seen by the numbers (0.26 rating or just under 300,000 viewers) and the upper portion of that 18-49 demo, the 34-49, are conflicted as wrestling fans... If you notice, AEW can have 100,000 to 200,000 swings in their viewership on a week to week basis. It's usually from movement in the latter half of this demo (which is about 150,000 roughly).
The 34-49 Demo is more important than wrestling promotions think... They are a fanbase that is caught in between the older style of wrestling and newer spotfest/violent style that evolved from the late 1990s. I'm right in the middle of that Demographic, so I can speak... I started watching heavily during late 1988 so thus I grew up with the NWA/WCW and WWE Hulkamania years and then was able to witness the Monday Night Wars as a teenager. Then ECW arrived, Attitude Era blossomed, and then ECW's style was blended into everything. We're in that age group that remembers how good wrestling was but has context as to when the more violent and spotty style began. Many of us can tolerate the spotfests or violence because we're used to it.
The interesting thing about the 34-49 demo are the WRESTLERS from that age... It's a mix... Some wrestle with a more serious older school tone, particularly if they trained in the early 2000s WWE developmental system or work with Dusty in FCW/early NXT... However, like the wrestling fans conflicted with older and newer styles of wrestling, many wrestlers in that age took to the ECW, latter stages of WWE Attitude Era, or TNA's X Division based style. Aside from Chris Jericho, AEW has hired guys in this age bracket who specifically wrestle the spotfest and hardcore styles seen in the later WWE Attitude Era, ECW, TNA's X Division, and WCW's Cruiserweight division. That is the style that the 18-34 year old demographic grew up watching and thus AEW is catering to them with their wrestling hires.
The 50+ demo saw the 1970s product and all of the 1980s... Much different style than today, as the matches were pushed as real athletic contests, were heavy on psychology, and the business's magic secrets were protected. While WWE is insulting to watch from that bunch, they are loyal fans until the very end because watching WWE wrestling is routine to them. AEW is foreign to them, however.
Thus, AEW is left with 2 choices... (a) Somehow find more younger fans to support their product OR (b) find a way to appeal to the older audience.
Let me speak on behalf of the older audience, the 34 and above crowd... Yes, I know, we're old... We don't have as many Social Media accounts (and if we do, just Facebook), we're not staring at our smartphones as much as you, we don't understand the crappy music that is somehow charting on iTunes... But do you know what we are? We're DADS. We're also entering the PEAK years of earnings at our workplaces, as years of experience combined with our education is starting to move us up the income ladders. Thus, being DADS + EARNING MORE MONEY will mean that we not only have more disposable income to spend than the pre-34 age groups, but we can spend money and bring our kids to live wrestling events, too.
WWE's freakin' audience has DECREASED in 5 years from being over 4 million to being under 2 million. Yet, the WWE's own numbers show that the $ Revenue Per Fan keeps increasing year by year... Gee, why is that? Oh yeah, they are heavily tapped into that 34 and over Demographic. Again, those are guys with lots of disposable income now and they have kids who want WWE merchandise when attending live events.
And AEW Dynamite has weak appeal with that age group. The NUMBERS DON'T LIE.
Let's just take a look at the numbers by that 34 age group divide:
18-34 = 249,708 Viewers
34 and Older = 1,275,433 Viewers
Look at how shockingly close RAW and Dynamite's viewers are UNDER 34 years of age but how massively wide the disparity is AFTER 34 years of age. That is remarkable!
If All Elite Wrestling wants to grow, the only feasible way to do so is to appeal to older, loyal WWE fans to join them weekly. Otherwise, their Talent and Creative would have to create growth in their existing fanbase with the rise of the next big superstar or a hot wrestling angle. Both of those don't seem to be happening in the near future...
When you do things like pushing the Dark Order hard, having many 5'10" and 180 pound guys being competitive with your top stars, putting Moxley in repeat hardcore matches, pushing the Young Bucks style of wrestling with all spots and no psychology, using weapons or chairs excessively, and having a hot mess of a Women's division... That might be the style of wrestling that appeals to the 18-34 demographic, might be mildly tolerated or maybe disliked by 34-49, but is rejected by the 50+... You have a one-dimensional chaotic product that does not have wide appeal.
Do you think that I'm lying? Watch any of TNT's advertisements for AEW Dynamite. Nothing but high risk spots shown, heavily advertising flipping moves from the top rope or major table spots.
If that's the strategy of Tony Khan and the EVPs (Cody & Brandi Rhodes, Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega) to aim specifically at the 18-34 demographic and to a part of the 34-49 demo that likes spotfests, hardcore matches, and lighter weight wrestler action... I would say that they are sort of succeeding by matching the established WWE's numbers in those demos.
But OLDER fans are good fans, too...
And we're Dads with lots of cash... We're all tired of the WWE right now. Hell, I was seriously ready to walk away from Pro Wrestling for good during late 2018 because I was tired of covering the WWE. It made me sick! And then, AEW debuted during early 2019 and it gave me HOPE about the pro wrestling business.
So far, AEW has been HIT or MISS with me... Sometimes, it's really good for me... Then sometimes, it's very insulting to me. Never consistent... I see potential with many wrestlers but then I see not much with others. I question what on earth veterans Jake Roberts, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Diamond Dallas Page, Dean Malenko, and Billy Gunn are doing there and what influence they may have on the roster or creative. The world's greatest wrestling mind ever, Jim Ross, is there and he was the guy helping to steer Mid South, NWA/WCW, and the WWE through some tough waters and came up with revolutionary ways to scout and develop talent like a sports GM.
It's INSULTING to me to see what happened to Matt Hardy in AEW involving Sammy Guevara. Completely careless and no wrestler should endure that, let alone to a veteran wrestler who could maybe appeal to those older wrestling fans looking for a familiar face.
Wrestlers in AEW need to be taught the simple principle of "LESS is MORE"... By incorporating more psychology into your matches, you don't have to dive through the ropes, fly through tables, use foreign objects, or jumping off the top rope as much. Just watch any match of Jake Roberts, who is on your AEW roster, and you'll see it... He was effortless inside the ring and didn't have to do high risk stuff to get over.
Otherwise, if you keep pushing hardcore matches, overly pushing 5'10" & 180 pound wrestlers against heavyweights, diving through tables, having no psychology, and relying on high spots, you'll see NO GROWTH in your viewership UNLESS you somehow stumble upon the next Austin, Hogan, Cena, or Rock type draw.
Much of that 18-34 Demographic DOES NOT even have Cable or Satellite. How do you expect them to watch it on TNT weekly?
Again, that's why you need that 34 and over Demographic... They are the majority of the Cable/Satellite subscribers who can tune into TNT weekly and convince their kids to try it, too.
Until then, no growth for you... You'll have impressive 18-34 Demo numbers but nothing else.
Just make it a little more appealing for us old folks... We are begging you to take our money, as we're all sick of the WWE's crap right now. We'll help you defeat the WWE if you'll attempt to appeal to us.
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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