Impact Wrestling seems to be in a bit of a lull right now.
In many ways that lull is perfectly natural. They’re coming off a super hot pay-per-view in Slammiversary and have a little under two months until the next one. Everything needs time to breathe and fit together so they can build another rock-solid card. It is how wrestling on TV should work.
That lull seems to be reflected in the viewership numbers. Last week they hit an almost record low, only drawing 168,000 viewers and whilst this week they hit 210,000, that’s still the second-lowest number of 2018.
From hitting the highs of 399,000 just a few months ago, Impact has now only broken 300,000 viewers in the United States once since May. Those numbers will be concerning to Impact’s management I’m sure, and will perhaps give some juice to those who wish to see Impact fail, but what should we, as fans, make of them.
Those numbers aren’t entirely indicative of anything, that’s one thing. Impact is now making the best use of social media, across all platforms, that it ever has and that is reflected in record traffic to their Twitter and YouTube accounts. They are promoting the TV content well in advance for every week, informing their fan base and keeping people informed. They couldn’t be doing any more and people are clearly responding to it.
Likewise, their Twitch channel streams things all the time and they continue to put on entertaining shows alongside indie partners across North America. They are currently in the process of putting together a very interesting card for Manchester in September and there seems to be positive buzz about the company across a lot of our wrestling bubble.
Audiences for their tapings have been solid and raucous, something you’ve not been able to say for a long time.
That said, those numbers cannot be entirely ignored or dismissed. They are a reflection, in some ways at least, of the fact the TV product just hasn’t been as good recently as it was a few months ago. Yes, there’s still interesting stuff like the Sami Callihan feud with Fenix and Pentagon and everything with LAX and the OGz, but there’s also stuff that doesn’t hit the mark at all, like whatever’s going on with Eli Drake and Joe Hendry. Whilst there were lots of hot feuds heading into Slammiversary, nothing at the moment feels must-see or worthy of you tuning in every week.
The worry for me, therefore, is that there might be some panic booking. Shock turns or title changes to try and get people tuned in and invested, copy the manoeuvres made by the WWE in the past. They don’t need to, they’ve engendered enough good will with all the good moves they’ve made in 2018 and made the point that they want to be different from WWE, but there’s a chance they could.
Talking of WWE, it would be useful to get some perspective. Their TV viewership has been down at record lows almost every week, yet they still seem to be rolling on. They have partnerships and broadcast deals across the world, much like Impact (I know they are on totally different scales), and as their deals with Fox have shown, the quality of the TV doesn’t really matter at all. Which is good, because it’s been hot garbage for an awfully long time now.
TV wrestling is in an industry-wide lull right now as far as I can see. It’s a difficult landscape, and it’s a changing one too. There’s really no need to panic as fans that Impact’s numbers are slowly going down. Before the last two weeks, the variation in figures was actually pretty consistent, within the limits of what you expect. Impact needs a new TV deal, it’s as simple as that, but we’ve known that for ages.
Next week will be the first episode of the tapings done last weekend in Canada, notably done after the 168,000 figure came out. It will be then, and over the next four weeks, that we are able to see if they do respond with extra title matches and nonsense booking, or whether they keep rolling with what they’ve been doing and continue the build towards Bound for Glory.
The Week in Review
- Fenix vs Sami Callihan was easily one of the best matches on Impact TV this year. Fenix is always special but Callihan is easily doing the best work of his career. Next week Callihan continues his descent into madness against Pentagon Jr in the first ever Mexican Death Match on American television.
- Fenix, meanwhile, faces Brian Cage in two weeks at ‘Impact: ReDefined’. I am hype.
- This week we saw the debut of Scarlett Bordeaux’s ‘Smokeshow’. Yeah, I don’t know what it was either. Well I do – it wasn’t good. At all.
- Tessa Blanchard getting involved in Su Yung’s match with Allie logically leads us to a triple threat for the title, a result Impact’s twitter have already revealed to people…
- The closing segment between LAX and the OGz was fascinating, as their feud continues to push boundaries. LAX might have won another battle, but I’m sure this war isn’t over yet.
- As well as Callihan/Pentagon, next week we will hear from Brian Cage for the first time, LAX celebrate their victory and we will see Matt Sydal in action.
Well, until next time…