NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 13, 2014) – The Aug. 7 episode of IMPACT WRESTLING, TNA’s flagship program airing Thursday nights at 9/8c on Spike TV, drew 1.6 million viewers (P2+, +3 Rating), the largest audience since mid-February of this year. The episode was also up against six nationally or regionally televised NFL pre-season games, the first of the NFL season.
Historically, IMPACT WRESTLING ratings are highest during Q1, however in Q3 2014, IMPACT WRESTLING has experienced a steady increase in total viewership and key demos that are exceeding ratings from Q1 2014, and rivaling Q1 ratings from previous years. To date, Q3 2014 ratings have attracted more viewers in the highly sought after Men 18-34 demo since Q1 2012, and the highest ratings for P2+, P 18-49 and Men 18-49 since Q1 2013.
This was the headline touted by associates and fans alike who boasted proudly of IMPACT Wrestling’s recent ratings success during the past month. For at least one whole week, a wrestling fan would have to have been living under a rock to have not been privvy in some way, form, or fashion to this blockbuster news. With so much negative press surrouding the company and the rumored demise of its television deal with Spike, it was quite spectacular to hear that TNA’s New York tapings were garnering more viewers than they have in the past five months, but also that they were absolutely smoking the stiff competition (FOOTBALL!!!) they faced on Thursday nights a 9PM Eastern, 8PM Central Standard Time.
And then this happened:
Speculation on both sides of the argument (pro-TNA or anti-TNA) ran rampant on why such a decision was made. Some suggested that the mere thought of WWE moving its B-show Smackdown back to Thursday nights caused TNA to preemptively relocate their flagship program in order to avoid another sound thrashing from the world’s most prominent wrestling promotion, while others countered that the move is reflective of the recent ratings success and the possibility that Spike has indeed renewed the promotion’s contract. Unfortunately at this time, neither one of those things can be proven as a fact or reality.
Through the very words of their president, TNA has given us some insight as to why this move is happening. Per TNA President Dixie Carter via ImpactWrestling.com,
“Moving IMPACT WRESTLING to Wednesday nights gives existing fans and new viewers an opportunity to enjoy both wrestling and live sports even more throughout the week.”
That makes sense; IMPACT Wrestling was moved to Wednesday nights so existing fans and new viewers (not fans; those are two different demographics, trust me) will have the opportunity or option to enjoy wrestling AND live sports … i.e. THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL!!! This is very considerate of the minds in charge at TNA headquarters; to actually think about fans and viewers in order to provide them with a product that allows them to watch both wrestling and football is something that TNA’s competition would probably never ever do.
But one can’t help but to point out the massive pink elephant in the room … if TNA enjoyed so much ratings success on Thursday nights, consideration be damned why in the hell are they moving the program to Wednesday nights?!?!
That’s just it: at this crucial moment in time where “negotiations are ongoing”*, TNA cannot stand to lose any viewers if they are lobbying, through United Talent Agency, to renew their deal with Spike or land a new deal with another network, especially if their leverage lies within the fact that they can get and maintain 1.6 million viewers (and not fans) per week between now and late September. It would clearly be suicidal in regards to landing a new television deal to keep the show up against football and its much more rabid fan base.
The risk in this move, however, lies in whether or not the 1.6 million viewers from last Thursday’s episode of Impact Wrestling, and the 1.4 million viewers they get consistently, will make that move with IMPACT Wrestling from Thursday to Wednesday nights. We always assume that people will make those types of moves easily, but we cannot assume or speak on the viewing habits of 1.4 – 1.6 million people; just because we may make that move doesn’t mean that all of us will be easily inclined to do so as well.
Also, given that one climactic moment from last week served as the hook for the episode, how sure are we that those same 1.6 million people tuned in last night and will also tune in next week without some sort of major or landmark hook? TNA has to ride the momentum of last week’s show into next week on a completely different night, and I’m hopeful that the suits on their executive board know way more than us fans about the competition they face on Wednesday nights; let’s hope that those same 200,000 new viewers from last Thursday are not preoccupied with other shows or events on their Wednesday nights.
Quick comparison as an example: when WWE launched the WWE Network, they promised stock holders and tons of other folks that they expected to get 1 million subscribers by the end of the year in order to recoup the money dumped into the project. It was only a month or so ago that they reached 700,000+ subscribers, also accounting for those that initially subscribed and eventually dropped the network. With hundreds of thousands of hours of content on the Network, as well as the ability to view each monthly pay per view as a part of the $9.99 package, it shouldn’t have been a problem for WWE to land 1 million subscriptions seeing as their viewership for RAW alone always teeters between 3.5 and 4+ million viewers, good or bad episode. Extra incentives and shameless plugging can’t get them to 1 million subscriptions; are we that positive that the viewers will just simply flock to Wednesday nights? Fans will watch the show no matter what night it comes on, but viewers are fickle and one is justified in believing that TNA can expect at least 100,000 viewers to drop from the move alone. The WWE Network subscription numbers show us that “fans” pale in comparison to “viewers,” and I for one am not too sure that all of IMPACT Wrestling’s “viewers” will readily shift to a new night and time in a week.
All in all TNA is once again stuck in a seemingly unenviable position: the move to Wednesdays frees them from facing the competition of live sporting events, but at the same time there’s no solid proof (that we’re privvy to) that says they will keep their numbers by moving to a new day. It is confusing as a fan to celebrate the success of their first set of New York City tapings by moving the show to a whole ‘nother night. But, it is what it is. As was stated before, we can only hope the fans will follow along … because it just seems as if TNA can only go up from where they are now.
*Has anyone else noticed that when commenting on the situation between TNA and Spike, the only thing being said by anyone – including the wrestlers – is that “negotiations are continuing”? I get that it’s standard given there situation, and even the most legal thing they can comment about it, but it just seems weird that they have to add that phrase “negotiations are continuing” verbatim to their responses about the future of the promotion instead of simply saying, “I have know idea of what you’re talking about.” But I guess if they said that, THAT could be used against them by detractors as well. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t …