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June 23 WON notes
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Old 19 Jun 2008, 02:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default June 23 WON notes

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Week two of Vince McMahon giving away $1 million was at least not the ratings failure of the first week.

In a show where the focus was more on the wrestling product than the giveaways, the show did a 3.30 rating and 5.21 million viewers. The rating was the best for Raw since 4/7, but the viewers per home were way up from usual (1.64 per home, up from a 1.48 average in the month of April and at this time of the year that number would be expected to very slightly drop). It was the most viewers for a Raw episode since the Ric Flair retirement show the day after Wrestlemania. The show had an average viewer age of 35, 69% males, and did a 3.30 rating in Males 18-49, up 10% from the 3.0 average since September.

It’s hard to call that number any kind of a success when they were giving away $1 million, but as compared with the week before, it was a success. At press time we don’t have details other than hour two actually drew fewer viewers than hour one, which is a rarity. It appeared the contest brought some new viewers in, and unlike in week one, they tried to focus the emphasis more on wrestling storyline than giving away money. A percentage of the audience got the password and then tuned out. The value of a .3 increase in ratings (essentially back to what would have been average numbers a few weeks ago, but in the climate of a steady decline, they staved off a ratings decline for at least two weeks since the draft show historically does well) for one week if it’s not part of a longer trend to make them regular viewers, is basically zero to WWE. If they only came to hear the password and didn’t stick with the show for the duration, that’s unlikely to mean they are making new fans.

The value to USA for the ratings is hardly $1 million for an extra-tenth of a point above the recent average, or would be about $20,000 based on them paying $600,000 per week. This also means the cost per taping has increased to about $1,750,000 per show, which means THIS IS THE IFL where they are now deep in the red even if they sellout. Of course, they’ve got other aspects of business that can cover those losses.

During the week after the first rating came out, the company scripted storyline ideas to get out of the giveaway, but they decided to at least continue it through the 6/23 three-hour special from San Antonio with the draft. The draft rating usually is way up from usual, so next week’s number, if it’s up, isn’t necessarily a sign of increased momentum.

The biggest change from week-to-week was a change in approach. The first week, the decision was made to have it more controlled. The people who were expected to be called were first contacted at 9 p.m. by WWE officials to make sure they were watching the show and told they were likely to be called. This is why you didn’t have big reactions. The idea was they didn’t want to call people who weren’t watching Raw, and wanted to make sure they didn’t get any busy signals or that people would be called who weren’t home. As it turned out, they still got a busy signal. Also, the cards with the phone numbers given to Vince McMahon printed with gigantic numerals, so Vince wouldn’t have to wear his reading glasses, and thus not look like an old man. Vince still had his troubles dialing the phone, and even though the segments were improved, Vince came off so badly like he had no respect for his fan base when on the phone with them. For someone who tried to preach an us against them mentality on TV the week before, with “them” being elitist snobs, Vince himself came across like he didn’t want anything to do with his fan base.

There were six winners, ranging from $16 for the joke winner, to $300,000 for the winner announced right before the main event, totaling $1 million. For 6/23, prizes will be $300,000; $150,000; $125,000; $105,000; $100,000, $75,000, $70,000, $35,000, $25,000, $9,999, $5,000 and $1, so they are almost doubling the amount of people that will be called from seven to 12, which essentially means a greater emphasis on it during next week’s show.

The negative is from a sponsorship standpoint, this contest has been a huge negative. One of Vince’s pet peeves is the idea that wrestling appeals mostly to low-rent people without a lot of income. It’s why blue-chip advertisers steer clear, and why ad rates for wrestling in prime time are half of what they would be for most shows that draw similar numbers. The actual audience WWE television hits so strong with teenagers and Males 18-34, which are hard to hit, it would seem to be an advertisers dream. Yet WWE ad rates are ridiculously low for the number of viewers they reach. It’s a key reason why CW would dump Smackdown when it was one of its highest rated shows and only WGN and MyNetwork showed any interest, and when Raw was available after Spike decided against getting into a bidding war with USA over it, USA was able to get it largely on their terms and keeping the ad revenue because WWE was left with no options. And in the end, everyone in TV knows WWE needs television more than television needs WWE.

In an interview on The Score, the company’s Canadian broadcast partner, done before the second week ratings came out, McMahon said about the idea, “Sometimes even I can’t believe them (ideas he’s come up with) and this is not necessarily one of my better ideas, giving away my personal money, and it’s a total of $1 million every Monday night. Last week, we had one lady from Texas win $2 and we had another gentleman from Wisconsin win $250,000, and I must admit it gave me more pleasure to give away the $2 than it did the $250,000.”

I was amazed they pushed the idea that the $200,000 winner in week one got more money than he would earn in 11 or 12 years at his regular job of stocking shelves at Wal-Mart. In pushing that so hard, they pushed every negative advertiser stereotype the company is trying to break away from. In week two, at least they pushed one of the $175,000 winners was going to use the money to pay for college and it would be a life changing experience. The make-up of the winners they paraded around New York the first week and the reactions the second week, when the callers weren’t pre-screened, hit every stereotypes people negative toward wrestling going in have. Vince’s reaction to them on television only accentuated that feeling.

According to sources, the Million Dollar idea came up several weeks ago when Vince was looking for out of the box ideas to try and do a publicity stunt on Raw to improve ratings. It was believed that marketing came up with an idea of doing a trivia game on television, a take-off on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” with Vince as the host. Vince then changed the idea to what we had, eliminating the trivia aspect.

WWE Universe was a marketing buzz term, similar to the failed Raw Fan Nation idea taken from Kevin Dunn being an Oakland Raiders fan. Vince himself hates the term “fan,” and had at on point even banned the creative team from using that term, thinking the term “fan” is demeaning. He hated the term “mark” even worse. Vince took his concept to legal, which immediately said it wasn’t a doable idea, because of the belief that the stockholders would have an immediate backlash. Frustrated that having to deal with and eventually win over the stockholders would delay implementation, he decided to use his own money.

Even though the 6/9 rating was a flop, internally they tried to use stats to say it worked as from start-to-finish, there were 7.43 million people who watched at least one minute of the show, and 32% of them had not watched the show over the previous four weeks. It sounds good, but when the final rating was only a 3.03, that meant most of those new people only stayed for a few minutes, and it meant that they lost a huge amount of regular weekly viewers to end up with a negative overall rating. During a typical week’s Raw, there are a considerable amount of floaters, in that they’ll watch a few minutes and then leave, which accounts for the big quarter hour swings. About 26% of them are people who don’t watch regularly. But statistically, again, they don’t stay, and they are not people buying the product.

WWE also gave away approximately $6,000 to fans live at the E Center in Salt Lake City during commercial breaks, for segments hosted by Todd Grisham, for girls who would dance or kids who would answer trivia questions.
Vince is a genius.
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Old 19 Jun 2008, 09:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yeah the give aways were ten times better this week. They were actually entertaining and made you feel good for the winners. Not only that but it was a very good card for storyline development and had some very nice matches on it.

I'm totally hooked on Jericho again after another stunning heel promo from him. Jericho was so destined to be a heel.
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