Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow, Brian Damage and Earl Marx
Is it content overkill from the WWE these days? We have over 7 hours of TV a week and now find ourselves also getting as many as two PPVs a month. In today’s Sunday Sermon, we ask if too much content is hurting the WWE.
Craig: As an ardent wrestling fan, I was thoroughly overjoyed at the prospect of thousands of hours of archived wrestling on demand. Throw in the six or seven weeks of WWE TV produced every week, we were going to be spoiled for choice.
Both TV shows are flat and the fortnightly (!!) network specials, let’s not call them PPVs, are lacklustre at best and mostly build towards TV. When that’s on offer, why wouldn’t you ditch that and head back into the WWE’s archive and watch some classic old school wrestling?
So, is all that content now hurting the WWE? All that and more in today’s Sunday Sermon.
Jamie: If I self-evaluate my own behaviour then too much content is exactly why I’ve stopped following WWE on a week to week basis. Granted, I could just pick one brand and follow that and that alone. Problem is, Raw and Smackdown aren’t two completely separate brands no matter how much WWE wants you to believe that. Apparently when John Cena returns he will feature on both shows, so if I want to follow his storylines I guess I have to follow both Raw and Smackdown.
From a personal standpoint, the problem is easily fixed; I don’t watch. However, when is enough enough? When will WWE hit their saturation point and be forced by fans, TV networks, sponsors or whatever to scale back? It will happen, I’m just curious to see how that gets spun into a positive thing rather than a ‘we’ve bitten off more than we can chew’ thing.
Craig: I would envisage that that moment would only happen when the ratings drop below a certain level. And considering that virtually every week a new record low is set, can it be much longer.
I record raw and smackdown every week. I literally don’t think I could watch it live as I basically depend upon the fast forward button to keep me from nodding off.
Jamie, you self-evaluate, I think the WWE’s issue is it can’t self-filter. I mean, aren’t there pre-shows for both raw and smackdown? Who the fuck watches them?!
Jamie: They also have post-show shows too, don’t they? Is that what ‘Talking Smack’ is? I can wrap my head around all the different brands they have like Raw, Smackdown, NXT, 205 Live, whatever the UK thing is etc. The pre and post show shows are beyond me though. A pre-show for Wrestlemania I understand, but for a weekly show? No thanks. I would love to know if these shows even make a difference. They are exclusive to the Network so will air regardless because they are already sold as part of the subscription, but would more people watch a Raw pre-show or an old repeat of WCW Nitro or something else from the video library?
I do keep coming back to the valid point that if I don’t like it I shouldn’t watch, and I don’t. Problem is, I want to watch, I want to care but there is so much output from WWE that I get put off because I feel like it’s all diluted, not special and not worth following anyway. I feel like WWE are hovering close to a supply and demand dilemma. I, as a fan and potential viewer, should be excited about the next episode or show but they supply so much output that my WWE belly never gets empty enough for me to demand that next show or episode.
Craig: When you switch off but want to get back on board, you look and see so, so much stuff and have no idea where to start. That’s off-putting. Be like if your favourite artist out ten albums a year. Which one do you buy or do you just find it so inaccessible that you just ignore it all?
The belly never being empty is an absolutely spot on bit of analysis. You intend to sit watching Raw wishing that it was longer and being desperate for next week. I’m usually left thinking “how much of this is left? Please make it stop.”
Add in an extra network special a month and it’s wildly OTT. The issue is, though, now that the genie is out of the bottle, can it be pushed back into the lamp?
Brian: I think we can all agree that Raw is an hour too long. Truth be told though if the storylines and characters were compelling enough, I really don’t think it would matter if the show was three hours, two hours or even an hour. There is just too much start and stop with angles, there is nothing really flowing on either broadcast right now.
As for content, it is what it is. I’ll admit, I haven’t watched much if any content other than the three shows of Raw, Smackdown Live and NXT. The WWE network is well worth the price they have it as. The pay per views sells it to me themselves. Nobody is forced to watch all their content. Is it a lot? Yes, but I would rather have it at the available than not at all?
Jamie: The ‘it is what it is’ argument is an interesting one because I treat The Network (and WWE in general) with that kind of attitude myself. There’s loads of new content being created and that’s all well and good, doesn’t mean I care enough to watch it though. On one side you can argue that WWE has the resources to produce all this content, so why wouldn’t they? On the other hand, for most people the price of The Network is more than justified by the monthly PPVs alone, so is there a huge demand for so much content above and beyond the PPVs and content library?
My main problem with all this content is that I am the opposite of Brian. While I don’t watch a lot of the content WWE produce, I would rather it not be available. I think we can agree that Raw is mediocre these days, yet WWE continues to produce loads of other shows while their flagship show stagnates. If Raw and Smackdown were unmissable shows then fair enough, but now everything ‘is what it is’ with fans and possibly even the WWE themselves.
Earl: This argument is likely to become the new norm with professional wrestling fans. I think it’s a good argument that truly has no right or wrong answer.
My own thought is that I don’t think too much content hurts WWE. In this age, it really is as simple as not watching it. I remember Triple H making a comment where he compared Da Network to Netflix and he asked “why is that no one ever asks if Netflix has too much content?” I thought “you know….he’s got a point there”. Most complaints around Netflix tends to be about the content that is NOT there. We, on the Network, have years of great programming available and it really isn’t a question of what isn’t there – we tend to question what is there and the new stuff that is being created that will be archived on it one day.
I may have said this before, but I am selective with what I follow weekly. I follow Raw and SD Live. 5 Hours weekly. I do watch their PPVs. I watch the NXT takeovers to see the cream of the NXT crop. I don’t follow 205 Live anymore and I don’t follow NXT weekly. I do watch the specials. I actually don’t feel fatigued either. I know I could watch more at anytime I wanted, but I desire to see something else. I encourage fans – see something else. So when WWE pissed you off, at least you know there’s better TV out there. Ha! And remember what Stephanie and Vince alluded to – Raw and SD Live are TV shows about wrestling. Note that I did not say a wrestling TV show. NO….it’s a TV show about the WWE universe which is primarily centered around wrestling. If you feel tired, you can tune into other TV shows….perhaps one about the Dead that Walks….of the Spot that is Blind…. You have choices. And as the ratings suggested, people tune into other shows as well. The content can just keep on coming – whether you watch or not is your choice. It is a great CHOICE to have.
Jamie: For most fans, the volume of WWE output is a good problem to have. Watch if you want or watch something else if that’s your bag. Personally, the only weekly show I watch from WWE is NXT and I’m happy with that, ROH provides the rest of my wrestling fix. I just wonder how long WWE can continue to produce this amount of content for? The WWE Network is not Netflix, other than the video library from years gone by, WWE has to produce it’s own content rather than buy shows from production companies. I guess my point is that WWE produces hours and hours of weekly content, but how much of it is any good and how much does your average fan actually watch…. without fast-forwarding!
As a fan I don’t particularly care if WWE are being wasteful, but from a business standpoint there is surely a finite amount of time they can keep producing content fans either take for granted, don’t watch, don’t care about or fast-forward through.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermon pieces here.