The Monday night wars are back! This time, it’s not between two factions. It’s between you and your attention span. I mean before July 23 there used to actually be a name for the hour and half of slop they stick in the middle of the new three-hour Raw. It was called Smackdown! Right now, three hours on a week night, all at once, can you really stay glued to Monday night television all that time? It’s a battle with television, social media, work, boyfriends, girlfriends, regular friends, pets, babies, video games, and whatever the heck else you can, want, and need to spend your time doing. Is the WWE making the right move to vice grip your attention span? In my personal opinion the three hour experiment has run its course and has failed. But has it?
Here Comes the Money
Let’s take a look at some numbers. Specifically the ones WWE cares about, the dollars and cents of the business. The first thing that comes to mind is a publicly traded company’s stock price. In April of 2008 and 2010, the price hit it’s peaks in the last 10 years in the area between $18 and $19. Or you can experiment yourself here and take a full look at things. However, since then the price has dropped almost a full $10. It hit a 2012 peak so far in January at $9.84 and right now (Oct. 16) closed at $8.29. So is the three-hour Raw failing in the financial sense judging from the stock price? Trick question, I haven’t shown you all the facts. If you compare the current price to the 2012 high, one could conclude on the stock price basis that the project is failing. However, compare the current price to the July 23rd (the day Raw moved to 3 hours) of about $7.50 and one could argue that based on these numbers the project seems to be moving along in the right direction.
Now I’m not one to talk huge amounts of numbers. So I will let most of the speculation go to you. Check out the full quarter recap of WWE’s 2nd Quarter Earnings from 2012 compared to 2011 2nd Quarter.
Here’s some of the highlights in case you just feel like skimming. (I would suggest you look for yourself to see how these apply in context.)
Q2 North American revenue 2012 is up $2.3 Million from Q2 2011. Total worldwide revenue is down $1 million.
Q2 2012 to Q2 2011 PPV buys are up 299,000. (Includes, WM, ER, OTL, NWO(Capital Punishment 2011)), All PPV buys were up.
Q2 2012 to Q2 2011 TV Rights Fee’s Revenue went up by $.4 Million.
Q2 2012 to Q2 2011 Licensing revenues went DOWN by $5.4 Million. (mostly due to Video game sales) WWE All Stars was released last year at this time which is responsible for the jump.
Q2 2012 to Q2 2011 Digital Media related business is up $1.6 million (26%)
It’s Not as Easy as 1-2-3, Kid.
Enough with the numbers for now. As a 25-year-old male, who does place wrestling on a high list of his priorities. The three-hour raw is still too hard for me to watch an entire episode. I watch the first hour, and probably the last segment live. The middle, I catch here and there in the background when I’m doing other things. Then later that night or the next day, I look for an internet recap, or video of anything significant that I may have missed and they didn’t recap at the end of the show.
Does that make me a bad fan? No, it makes me more of a modern fan. Media trends are heading toward more of this every day. With the hectic schedule most people live it’s hard to watch a show week in and week out. Some people have turned to other outlets, like YouTube, Hulu, DVR, legal and illegal internet streams. We seek a convenient way to watch what we want, when we want, and without interruption.
So how does the three-hour Raw accommodate to that? First, we see a heck of a lot more recaps. There’s more time for Michael Cole and the other announcers to repeat, repeat, and repeat information to those who are tuning in and out. If I am watching the entire show, it is rather annoying. If I am doing other things, which I feel a lot of the audience is, it’s rather convenient. To be honest, recaps usefulness outweighs the benefits.
Another way to grab my straying attention is to get me involved. How are we seeing that? By the constant hashtagging, tweeting, and touting? Although most of the polls are rather lame, they still are an attempt to get ones attention back from being submersed in twitter and face book, reminding you, HEY WE’RE OVER HERE! Even though the twitter polls aren’t always the best. They have gotten me to vote. Proof to me that they are working, and proof to me of how easy it is to use twitter to get people involved. Even the guest social media ambassadors, although odd choices at times, do a good job from a business standpoint, at reaching a different cross section of the television audience. I’m already a wrestling fan and the ambassadors aren’t supposed to be for me. They are supposed to grab new fans. They are supposed to get my friends talking about Raw again. If an old friend is posting about a Raw I am usually watching, that is going to bring me right back to it. A wrestling fans news feed is usually always blown up with #Raw’s on a Monday night. Therefore, if it is taking off more than usual, I know something’s going on. If a new fan is talking about it, I really know something is going on. For example, I missed the Lawler heart attack and social media brought me back to Raw immediately. Are they pushing it too much? Maybe just a little bit, but that’s part of having too much time on their hands with three hours of slot to fill.
Enough is Enough, (is it time for a change?)
Is the WWE doing what they can to keep and grab your attention? Well they are sure as hell trying. The tag team division growth has added depth to the show and definitely grown interest in having me stick around to watch some extra minutes. The growth of the mid card seems to keep my attention these days. Stars like Cesaro, Sandow, Rhodes, Ziggler, and Barrett seem to be on the verge of potential breakouts. Will they get the push they need? Even Slater as the leader of “The Band” is a guy who over the last few months has become someone the WWE Universe wouldn’t mind seeing breakout. Wrestling pundits like myself are even still hoping to see some more action with guys like Kidd and Gabriel. But, even with all these plots peaking interest at the same time, Raw being as interesting as it has been since CM Punk turned the WWE Universe on its head over a year and some change ago, what do I want to do for three hours straight on a Monday night? Nothing.
Even almost a full lineup of peaking plots can’t stop and 18-30 year old from checking email, texting, facebooking, checking sports scores, working on work, looking for a new job, financial planning, being active, and running errands. Maybe a more settled lifestyle could change that for me. For now from my life perspective and point of view, it can’t. I mean there is almost no single activity no matter how engaging I want to do for three straight hours. WWE is doing its best. But for god sakes it’s just too long. Cut out the slop and package it back up as a quality two-hour show, rather than a drawn out three-hour show. Two hours is close to something that I will watch 70% to 80% of the product live, rather than this three-hour extravaganza which is struggling to get me to watch a full 40%to 50% live.
I mean business wise again does it make financial sense to use the three hours to see more product placement to please advertisers who feel they may be cut out by DVR and other means. Well yes. But do you need a whole hour to watch Ryback eat Subway?
EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME!
Again, I have digressed. The whole three-hour conundrum has come down to make a few major changes in my Raw viewing experience and WWE fan experience.
1. The Three hour Raw allows for the usage of more superstars and air time to progress more plots. It currently has my mid card interest at an all time high. Even at a time I was doubting a mid card existed in the WWE from my older columns. Along with the mid card interest my overall interest is in an upward spike.
2. It has dropped my live viewing of Monday night Raw. I still watch the show via net stream, dvr, and check raw recaps. However, if something on the show just sucked or is not necessary to a large plot development. I probably miss it entirely. Or catch what was important in next weeks recap. This hurts television ratings and advertising revenue from my individual perspective for the WWE.
3. The biggest change that I feel the WWE has made with the three hour Raw based on my perspective, (please share if you feel this as well, or disagree) is that my interest in Smackdown has gone from moderate interest, to low/no interest at all. Three hour Raw, tells me enough of the Smackdown story that I don’t need to watch it all. Even on my DVR, internet, or 4g phonepadtouch whatever thingy. The WHC is just up against far too much right now for me to give a crap. Although, I do love my boy Dolph….
It’s All About the Money
So to be quite honest, after skimming the top of the water, in my mind the three hour Raw experience, although it may have seem to run its course in keeping my attention, it doesn’t seem to have run its course in increasing revenue, and interest. Here is my tip to those of you who dislike the three hour Raw. Stop watching and it will return to the two-hour days. For now, as long as we tweet, tout, blog, podcast, and generally keep interested in WWE. The three-hour extravaganza is here to stay.