Am I the only one who isn’t excited for the debut of AEW Collision? And no, this isn’t an anti-CM Punk column, as I have been the main column writer who has been championing his cause against the toxic cultures of the WWE and AEW for over a decade. My issue is with TIME… Do we really need another wrestling show to watch? Does AEW really need a 3rd wrestling show when its main Wednesday prime time show on TBS, which is available in about 85 million homes, is struggling to achieve 900,000 viewers lately?
If you have ever taken an Economics course in college, specifically Microeconomics, you’d learn of a term called the Law of Diminished Marginal Utility which is defined as as increasing amounts of a good or service is consumed, its marginal utility (satisfaction, enjoyment) of consuming said good/service declines per additional unit. For example, go buy 2 large pizzas and start eating them. Because you’re starving, piece #1 tastes amazing and it satisfied your cravings… Piece #2 tastes great, but not as awesome as the first piece. Piece #3 was good, but not as good as piece #2 and definitely not as good as #1. Then, by piece #4, you start feeling full… Then, #5, you feel even more full than the previous piece. You decide to push it, and go on to eat pieces #6, #7, and #8 and you feel more miserable and bloated by each additional piece consumed. By #9, you want to throw-up!
For a wrestling context, you’re a dedicated wrestling fan… You LOVE wrestling and it’s your hobby in many ways. Maybe you’re a fan specifically of the WWE or AEW brand?
During the 1990s, the only Prime Time show that was demanded of you was Monday Night RAW and it was only 1 hour long. Then, the Monday Night Wars happened and it became 2 hours through 1997. Now, you were OK with that because the 2 hour show forced WWE to go live every other week, so thus the enjoyment of more consumed wasn’t an issue because WWE improved its quality. However, by late 1999, WWE was wanting to debut WWE Smackdown to impose another night of 2 hours worth of Prime Time wrestling to watch.
What did everyone complain about during the 2010s? When RAW went to 3 HOURS. And they still complain about it. In fact, we’re now groaning over the rumors that WWE and/or potential networks may change WWE Smackdown to a 3 hour show, too. Could you imagine that? Both RAW and Smackdown are 3 hours long… What if it’s a Pay Per View week? That means for WWE brands, you’re watching 3-5 hours of a Pay Per View, 3 hours of RAW, 2 hours of NXT, and 3 hours of Smackdown? Do you have time for your family? Do you have time to relax and watch other things? Do you have time for sleep?
With All Elite Wrestling (AEW), they are still a new company that was created during 2019. Yet instead of focusing on making AEW Dynamite better, they are wanting to expand their new empire to create required viewing for Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday Nights for 2 hours each! Forget going out on a date, watch AEW on the prime real estate date nights instead!
What if you’re a dedicated fan who tries to watch AEW and WWE?
Sunday – Possibly a Pay Per View
Monday – WWE Raw for 3 Hours
Tuesday – WWE NXT for 2 Hours
Wednesday – AEW Dynamite for 2 Hours
Thursday – Actual day off, but you can watch 2 hours of IMPACT! Wrestling if you choose
Fridays – WWE Smackdown for 2 Hours, AEW Rampage for 2 Hours
Saturday – Possibly a Pay Per View, AEW Collision for 2 Hours
Who, besides content creators who make a living reporting and reviewing said shows, has that kind of time? You are asking too much of your wrestling fanbase to not just give up their money (Cable TV and attending lives shows costs $$$), but their TIME as well. Furthermore, if the quality isn’t there per the awful WWE/AEW Creative Teams, burn-out of wrestling fans will set in. Hence why TV Viewership has declined over the past 10 years from around 4 million combined fans to 2 million on its best night.
If you don’t believe me that “diminished marginal utility” has set in, have you enjoyed the recent photos posted online by WWE/AEW live event attendees of empty seats throughout the arenas? You can keep giving me that “Nielsen Ratings no longer matter”, but when it translates to LOWER merchandise sales (besides Bloodline) and attendance in correlation, then the willingness to pay for Cable TV just to watch wrestling live, as it happens, matters. Besides, YouTube viewer numbers only pop for specific things and are reportedly about 70% International based anyway. Hulu viewership numbers are also insignificant. DVR replay numbers have been declining, too.
For the attendance, WWE has been tarping off the upper decks for years while using a bigger entrance to block off about 1/3 of the arena. Thus, they make about 5,000 to 10,000 seats available for most of their shows. Worse yet with the WWE, they refuse to reduce prices and are reliant on loyal WWE fans ponying up their hard-earned cash. Then, you get to AEW who struggles to fill 5,000 seat arenas often and heavily papers their audience with comp tickets or ridiculous 4 for $40 deals or free meals with tickets bought. Even with cheaper tickets, AEW still cannot fill North American arenas. Why, because TIME = MONEY and attending an event live not only costs money, but it costs you your time as well. Driving to a big city make take hours, getting out of that damn parking lot is even worse.
The Observer Boys will blame recent attendance photos as it “being on the camera side”. Really? So the hard camera needs an entire side of an arena to be blocked off? Go back and watch older pictures of arenas from just 10 years ago and entire sides weren’t blocked off for the camera. Wrestling promotions don’t use sound from that hard camera, anyway, so thus can allow fans to be around them, particularly behind them which the WWE and AEW now blocks off BECAUSE THEY CANNOT SELL TICKETS!!!!! Before the 2020 pandemic, the WWE began significantly scaling back on their Houseshows and they haven’t exactly returned to pre-2019 numbers yet.
As I’ve told you folks for years… Lower TV ratings will equate to LOWER demand for everything else as an indicator for pro wrestling. Lower attendance, lower merch sold, and lower mentions as a pop culture phenom. Why do you think that the WWE overpays for Lesnar, Bad Bunny, or Logan Paul? Because nothing else is drawing interest because WWE has over-exposed their own product. What happened in Wembley will prove to be a one-time thing, as repeat attempts to draw in England for AEW will be much, much less. Their North American ticket sales are painting the true story.
Sure, these TV deals are amazing for the WWE especially and for AEW reportedly receiving $50 million extra for this AEW Collision creation. But it’s out of desperation, as Cable/Satellite and even Broadcast TV channels are DESPERATE for content because the streaming services have caused a massive reduction in households watching standard television. The peak was reached for Cable/Satellite of around 100 million homes during the 2010s and since then, has dropped about 15 million or possibly more over the last 10 years, maybe even more than that. Those numbers include the streaming cable numbers, too, like Sling and YouTube. Even they cannot stop the free fall of desiring to buy a package full of channels that you may not watch.
Point is, these Cable/Satellite channels especially are on their last legs and desperate to host LIVE sports content to keep viewers on their channels and subscribed to their stations.
While receiving almost $3 billion over 5 years for the WWE to air its content on USA Network, FOX, and on Peacock seems impressive (equating to about $600 million per year), they are actually getting lowballed when compared to other leagues:
NFL: $13 billion per year
MLB: $1.8 billion per year
NHL: $626 million per year
NASCAR: $800 million per year
NBA: $2.7 billion per year
UFC: $300 million per year (does not include Pay Per Views, just ESPN deal for 30 events)
Yikes – And when you look at things for the WWE, they are pumping WAY MORE content out for their lower money than these other companies. Between RAW, NXT, and Smackdown, the are pumping out just over 150 2-3 hour shows per week on USA Network and FOX. That is astounding when compared to UFC who only has to host 30 events on ESPN to earn their money, while the other leagues have OFF-SEASONS!
You cannot tell me that “WWE is more popular than it ever has been”, when the numbers do not dictate that. The HILARIOUS part is that the WWE actually outdraws MLB, NHL, NASCAR, NBA, and UFC on viewership per show, but their value deemed to be much lower by television networks and sponsors. But again, if the WWE drew 4 million viewers on Cable TV as they did through early 2015, their TV deals would be much larger than what you see today.
I believe that there is TOO MUCH WRESTLING content out there right now, and both WWE and AEW aren’t pumping out the quality to make sitting through 2-3 hours compelling on a weekly basis. By giving us too much weaker content, they are doing long-term damage to their companies and won’t realize it until the Cable/Satellite TV channel well dries up. As you can see by the “Streaming Wars”, channel companies trying to enroll into their own streaming service has ultimately become a huge failure. NBC/Universal’s Peacock platform has been a tremendous disaster, as it lags bigtime against most other streaming platforms. When the WWE Network deal is up in a few years, do you honestly believe that a deal close to their current 5-year, $1 billion will be there as well?
Desperate Cable/Satellite channels giving out money + first-time event at Wembley Stadium do NOT indicate a healthy wrestling business. Profitable now, yes, but lower attendance figures here in North American are painting an entirely different picture.
Wrestling fans are BURNED OUT and I believe the wrestlers working for these promotions, having to do 4-7 hours of television shows each week, are TIRED too.
Want my opinion?
– Reduce RAW to 2 hours
– Eliminate AEW Rampage entirely
– Move NXT to Peacock exclusive, turn it back into a 1 hour show
I’d even get BOLD and challenge AEW to attempt to move one of their shows to Monday Nights. Again, it’s NOT about competition. What the WWE/WCW Monday Night Wars found out is that offering convenience of watching everything in 1 night. What truly expanded the wrestling base is that fans had ONE NIGHT to watch everything at once and then as a consumer, they could pick & choose which Pay Per View to buy. If you go back and look at 1996-1999 numbers, RAW and Nitro grew the audiences collectively, especially through 1998 when WWE began to really grow and WCW still was riding on the NWO fumes.
Getting back to history, what killed WCW? Yes, bad creative and expensive contracts… But if you go back to August 1997, WCW Nitro was increased to THREE HOURS. Then, to start 1998, WCW suddenly had to support TWO MORE HOURS with WCW Thunder (aka “Chunder”) on Thursdays. Eric Bischoff went from only having to write WCW Nitro as a live prime time show for 2 hours to having to support 3 hours of Nitro and 2 hours of Thunder through 1998. Gee, I wonder if their product got over-exposed and if it wore out their fans & wrestlers?
“Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana
Too much wrestling to watch, too much BAD wrestling to watch = lower attendance numbers and wrestlers won’t get over.
And here is where I really want to make a point. I’m GLAD that Roman Reigns barely wrestles and defends his title. In fact, I’d encourage him to KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK! He’s not over-exposed on the roster, as he actually once was from 2015-2019 of seeing him weekly. In smaller doses, Roman is easier to digest and is thus getting much more over with the fans. Anything Roman does now is golden, as viewership spikes when he’s featured on Smackdown and Bloodline merch has revitalized WWE’s merchandise numbers (which have been declining for years). Why has Brock Lesnar been so effective since 2012? Because he only wrestles a few times a year on PPV/PLE and actually limits the amount of TV appearances, too.
How about this? Why is the NFL more popular than any other league? Look at the TV numbers above… And they draw like 20-40 million viewers per game on the weekends, depending on the teams. Because LESS IS MORE… You can only watch NFL games from September through January (well, early February), but each team only plays ONCE per week. This is unlike MLB, NHL, or NBA who play longer seasons, have longer playoffs with more games, and play multiple times per week. Plus, NFL is wise to be more inclusive, as their games don’t require East Coasters to sacrifice sleep to watch games.
LESS IS MORE…
But WWE and AEW is giving us too much, and not enough quality.
Hence attendance woes here in North America. And continued viewership declines…
We have TOO MUCH wrestling on television right now. Time is a luxury that we do not have.
I’m going to make a prediction… This CM Punk experiment for AEW Collision will FAIL, but not because of CM Punk. By Saturdays, wrestling fans are worn out and need the weekend off from their loyal hobby. Plus, Tony Khan and the EVPs have performed enough damage on CM Punk, coming off an injury, to create any sparks.
Now, if CM Punk begins to appear again on AEW Dynamite, that’s a different story. Move AEW Dynamite to Monday Nights with CM Punk featured as one of the top performers, that’s another story too.
Make things CONVENIENT for wrestling fans, please, or you’ll lose us.