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The 7 - Guest Columns - Ratings Analysis
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skorpio17
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#1 Posted on 10.1.03 1541.31
Reposted on: 10.1.10 1541.52

Raw Ratings - 2001: In-Depth Analysis



Exclusive to Nobody

I got this idea for a spin-off column after reading a wienerville discussion about ratings.
Mike Sweetser came up with some cool graphs. Check it out at
ratings

The short story for those who don't want to read the whole column is that the ratings for Raw suck. For 2002 they averaged 4.04. The year before, in 2001, they averaged 4.70 and that was considered a bad year at the time. In 2000 and 1999 they were averaging 6.0 while competing against WCW Nitro.

Looking at the breakdown by quarter, for every three months of the year.

Q1 = 4.70
Q2 = 4.26
Q3 = 3.73
Q4 = 3.48

It should be noted that the split occurred between the first and second quarters. The best ratings occurred before the split. Each quarters ratings have been worse than the previous one. Looking back at the quarterly trend in the previous year of 2001, we find ratings of 4.94, 4.71, 4.95, 4.18. So, the first quarter is always very strong. One reason for this is that the best wrestling usually occurs with the Royal Rumble in January and Wrestlemania in March. The highest rated show of the year was the 3/24 Raw featuring the draft. Last year they had a strong third quarter with the July success of the Invasion angle. This year they had no strong mid-year angle to reverse the downward slide.

Post-PPV Spike

The Raw episode the day after a PPV usually increases its rating due to the PPV Spike. For those who haven?t read my previous groundbreaking column on this subject
PPV Spike here is the basic rule: the Bigger the PPV, the Bigger the Spike. In 2002, the average post-PPV Raw had a ratings increase of .175. Looking closer, the Big 5 PPV shows had an increase of .26, roughly 7%; while the other 7 PPVs had an increase of only .11. The biggest PPV spikes this year were Wrestlemania = .8, Survivor Series = .6, and Fully Loaded = .5. In the previous year, the biggest PPV spikes were Wrestlemania = 1.0, Survivor Series = .7, and Vengeance = .5. So, Wrestlemania and Survivor Series are big enough PPVs to cause a spike. The reason for Fully Loaded this year was the main event being a title match between Angle, Undertaker, and the Rock. Vengeance's main event was unifying the Undisputed title between Angle, Jericho, Rock, and Austin. I think more people turn in to Raw the next day because they didn't see the PPV and want to know who is the new champion. It is more interesting when more than two people are competing for the title. This is why I think another elimination chamber title match would work well.

Flashpoints:

5/13/02 - This got 3.9, down from 4.6, a decrease of .7 (15%). Raw would never reach 4.6 after this day. It was hyping up Judgement Day in six days, which had a main event of Hogan vs. Undertaker.. The Main Event was Austin vs. Booker T in a lumberjack match. The second Main Event, always held at the halfway mark, was Hogan vs. Flair for the title. People were turned off by the match of two old geezers. This was a good PPV match 10 years ago in their prime. These days it's been done to death by WCW. Also, the Hogan/Taker hype wasn't that good. It was highlighted when Hogan tried to steal the Taker's bike. The only problem was he couldn't get the engine to start. Even Taker's bike no-sells for Hogan. The Booker T turn to join NWO didn't make sense given WCW continuity. Nobody could save the weak NWO angle, not Austin and not Booker.

11/11/02 - This episode got 3.1, down from 3.5, a decrease of .4 (11%). This was the lowest rating of the year. It was hyping up the Survivor Series in six days. Main Event: Booker T vs. Triple H - (non-title), Second Main Event: Shawn Michaels interview. I like HBK, but a Shawn Michaels interview is a waste of time. They didn't even pretend that Booker T would have a chance to win the title here. It is interesting to note that the Raws with Booker T in the main event have been big ratings losers. I'd still give him a chance with the belt, but he might not be the answer.

Who's to Blame?

Who do we blame for the low ratings? The first choice would be Vince McMahon for losing touch with his audience. You could also blame him for putting Stephanie McMahon in charge of the writing, even though she has no qualifications. Blaming Brian Gerwitz, who reads comic books during Raw shows, would be another good choice. He is the head writer who would rather be writing for the soaps. He came up with the innovative Necrophilia angle. Now, it's not just Necro. That angle didn't hurt the ratings as much as I thought it would. Since this is a wrestling column, I'd rather look at each wrestler's run at the top and see which did the most damage. Most of the shows revolve around the champ and promote his main event match on Raw; or on the next PPV if it is coming soon. Let's look at the ratings for each champion's reign to see which title-holder drew the most viewers. I'll show the average Raw rating during the time they were champion and the increase or decrease from the previous champion.

Champion:

Jericho --- 4.57 --- +0.34 --- 10 weeks
Triple H -- 5.02 --- +0.45 --- 5 weeks
Hogan --- 4.43 --- -0.59 --- 4 weeks
Undertaker - 3.82 -- -0.61 -- 9 weeks
Rock ---- 3.92 ---- +0.10 ---- 5 weeks
Triple H -- 3.54 -- -0.38 -- 11 weeks
HBK ---- 3.43 ---- -0.11 ---- 4 weeks
Triple H -- 3.40 -- -0.03 -- 2 weeks

Triple H - Total --- 3.94 --- 18 weeks

The Blame Game

Triple H is the most common scapegoat for the ratings on Raw. Since he was given the title, ratings went down by .38 from the Rock's Raw. But, he also had a good title run as a face for 4 weeks after Wrestlemania. Ratings increased as he benefited from the WM spike. So his total title runs didn't do so badly. He deserves some of the blame, but not all of it.

Canadians Don't Have Boxes

In the aftermath of Wrestlemania, Hulk Hogan had great fan support in Canada. Yet, the crowd support didn't translate into higher ratings. Perhaps Hogan comes across better live than on TV. His title run was a mistake that hurt the ratings. Yes, the fans want to see him back, but not as a credible champion.

Dead Man Kills Ratings

The Undertaker also had a poor title run. He defended the title against Jeff Hardy in a ladder match, but that didn't bring back the ratings. In June he had poor build up to his poor match against Triple H (Smackdown talent). And, in July the ratings were really hurt when he defended at the PPV vs. the Rock and Angle (Smackdown talent). This left Raw without a meaningful main event to promote at the two PPVs. Raw had a good RVD/Brock Lesnar feud, but this was before Brock became popular.

Flair Flips Flop

Ric Flair started off the year owning half of the WWF and controlling Raw. He was a face. Then he became a heel by screwing Austin. Then he became a face by getting beat by Vince McMahon and losing his half. Then he became a heel again by teaming with Triple H. His character was a serious split-personality that lost his appeal. To me it's too much of a coincidence that Austin also walked out of WCW in 94 under Flair's watch. Then he walks out of Raw when Flair is in charge. There was once a time when Flair was a great wrestler who made everyone look better. Now he is a bad wrestler who makes everyone looks worse. He should stay retired.

Austin's Powers:

It is not that fair to blame all of Raw's ratings problems on the departure of Austin. Austin was still around in April and May when ratings started to slide. But, if you look at the 20 Raws with Austin compared with the 31 Raws without him, you'll see a big difference. With Austin Raw averages 4.47, without him they average 3.76. This means Austin adds .71 to the ratings, around 16%.

Now you may say that it's not fair to include the pre-split Raws with Austin, because the split was such a big ratings killer. In that case, you can look at the 10 Raws compared to 29 without him. With Austin Raw averages 4.36, without him they average 3.65. This means Austin still adds .71 to the ratings. The 2 pre-split non-Austin Raws disqualified were both late March episodes that received high ratings, despite Austin's no-show. The Bottom Line is WWE needs the bionic redneck for Wrestlemania.


Smackdown Ratings: Down With the Smack!



The ratings for Smackdown also sucked. For 2002 they averaged 3.52. The year before, in 2001, they averaged 4.08. This decrease of 14% is the same as the decrease in Raw's ratings. So the ratings for both shows sucked.

Looking at the breakdown by quarter, for every three months of the year.

Q1 = 3.97
Q2 = 3.47
Q3 = 3.33
Q4 = 3.47

Here you can see that the split cost Smackdown .5, about half a ratings point. This is the same amount that it cost Raw. Raw lost about half a ratings point due to sheer stupidity, but I already covered that. Looking back at the quarterly trend in the previous year of 2001, we find ratings of 4.44, 3.98, 4.03, 3.90. So other than the hot first quarter, Smackdown was fairly consistant as well. The third quarter Invasion angle wasn't quite as hot for Smackdown as it was for Raw.

If they announcers were really interested in pushing the Smackdown vs. Raw feud, Tazz and Michael Cole could've mentioned that the 9/12 Smackdown show beat Raw in the week's ratings by 3.7 to 3.4. This wasn't the first time, since Smackdown had gotten better ratings 4 times in 2001, but it seems like a more significant event since it occurred after the split.

Actually, Smackdown has more viewers every week. The ratings are somewhat deceiving. Each Raw ratings point is equal to 845,000 households. Since more people get Smackdown, each Smackdown rating point is equal to 1,055,000 households. This means that one Smackdown rating point is more valuable than one Raw rating point. A 3.5 Smackdown rating is the equivalent to a 4.4 Raw rating. So Smackdown almost always gets more viewers than Raw, even when it looks like Raw has a higher rating. (The number of households has been adjusted up every year since more people are getting more channels, but I'm using the most recent numbers to simplify things. A 3.5 rating this year is slightly more valuable than a 3.5 from 2000.)

Holidays Off

July 4th and November 28th were big holidays. Those two episodes of Smackdown were the lowest rated of the year. The ratings were 2.0 and 2.7. The reason is that on those two days people were out celebrating the holiday instead of watching TV at home. They went out to watch fireworks or went out to dinner with the extended family. For those reasons, I didn't count these two in my ratings analysis. (For my own traditional Thanksgiving; I'd sneak out after right dinner to a friend's house to watch Survivor Series.)

Flashpoints:

5/9/02 - This got 3.6, up from 2.9, an increase of .7 (24%). The previous week the main event featured Hulk Hogan against Chris Jericho. People turned off the set and sent the rating below 3.0 for the first time in recent memory. This week's show had Hogan and Edge face Jericho and Angle to a no-contest. Earlier it had D-Von Dudley pin Triple H with help from Jericho, a rare Triple H job. Putting Angle and Edge in the main event also made a world of difference.

8/15/02 - This episode got 3.5, up from 2.7, an increase of .8 (30%). The previous week's show was the lowest rating of the year. It had Brock Lesnar beat Hulk Hogan to a bloody mess. It was a really good show. Too bad so many of us missed it. It shows that Hogan in the main event is bad for ratings. This week's show had the Rock defeat Chris Benoit in the main event. It was a very good match. These shows were important to lift the ratings back into the 3's.

Ratings by Champion:

Jericho --- 3.96 --- ** --- 11 weeks
Triple H -- 3.88 --- -0.08 --- 5 weeks
Hogan --- 3.38 --- -0.50 --- 4 weeks
Undertaker - 3.36 -- -0.02 -- 8 weeks
Rock ---- 3.24 --- -0.12 ---- 5 weeks
Lesnar --- 3.49 --- +0.25 --- 12 weeks
Big Show -- 3.37 -- -0.12 -- 4 weeks
Angle --- 3.35 --- -0.02 --- 2 weeks

The Orange Goblin Strikes Back

Not only did Hulk Hogan's title run cost Raw, it also had an equally damaging effect on Smackdown's rating. I thought he was better when he was part of a tag team with Edge. It's better for his character to take on a comedic turn, than it is for him to be the legitimate champion. I'm all for his having a match at Wrestlemania against Vince McMahon, but let's not make it a title match.

The Year's Bright Spot

Brock Lesnar was the one bright spot in 2002. He was the only champion that year who won the belt for the first time. All others on both shows were repeat champions. He not only stabilized Smackdown's rating, he increased it as well. He got clean wins over Hogan, the Rock, and the Undertaker. He got some great booking and made the most of it. Right now he is the only face that is really over in the WWE. I don't want to spoil the Rumble for you guys, but I think I know who's winning it.

The Rock's Show?

Smackdown used to be known as the Rock's show. The question is does the Rock still bring the ratings to Smackdown? The answer is not anymore. Counting only the post-split shows, the 7 with the Rock got a 3.47 and the 30 without him got a 3.40. So, the appearance of the Rock only increased ratings by .06. His championship run also got the lowest ratings of the year. Most telling is the 7/11 episode. The Rock's return at this Smackdown had been heavily hyped for weeks. Still, the show only got a rating of 3.3. The Rock is not the ratings draw that he used to be.

{ EDIT: Lemme fix that for ya - CRZ }

{EDIT2: Turning ?s back into 's. thanks.}

(edited by CRZ on 12.1.03 0411)

(edited by skorpio17 on 12.1.03 0929)

(edited by skorpio17 on 12.1.03 0931)
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redsoxnation
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#2 Posted on 10.1.03 2233.06
Reposted on: 10.1.10 2236.20
Extremely interesting analysis. The one thing that also needs to be looked at during the time of the Undisputed Title Holders was who the #1 Contender was. Undertaker being #1 contender and haunting both shows during the Hogan reign of ratings decline I believe had as much (if not more) to do with the ratings crash than the Hogan reign itself. Everytime since his return in 2000 that he has been pushed near main event territory, the ratings develop a new bottom (Notice how ratings have stabilized the past 2 months with Taker not in action). Of course, with his imminent return approaching, this theory will be tested again, probably post-Mania when he finishes his mid card slumming and returns for his annual Spring/early Summer Main Event Slot.
skorpio17
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#3 Posted on 13.1.03 1140.27
Reposted on: 13.1.10 1142.23
Good point Red Sox. You have a point regarding Raw. But remember during the Hogan reign the Undertaker was “exclusive” to Raw. Also, they usually waited till the last week to really hype the next PPV. I’m looking just at the 4 Hogan episodes of Smackdown. 4/25/2: Hogan gives a speech, Main Event = Y2J vs. Triple H. 5/2/2: Main Event = Y2J vs. Hogan – title match. 5/9/2: Hogan speech, ME = Y2J & Angle vs. Hogan & Edge. 5/16/2: Hogan/Vince in-ring confrontation, ME = = Y2J & Angle vs. Triple H & Edge. So, Hogan wrestled twice during his title reign on Smackdown. Y2J wrestled in all 4 main events, so he can get some blame too.

Also, some people have commented that hot angles are a more important factor regardless of who the champion is. That is only true in limited conditions. During the Austin/McMahon feud, the main focus was for Austin to retain the title despite Vince’s trickery. During the NWO, the focus was for someone from WCW to take Hogan's title for them to succeed. And during the Invasion, Austin had to retain the title on behalf of the Alliance.

BTW, with all the hype for the Undertaker, I wouldn’t count on him doing much mid-card slumming.
redsoxnation
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#4 Posted on 13.1.03 1342.22
Reposted on: 13.1.10 1346.31

    Originally posted by skorpio17
    Good point Red Sox. You have a point regarding Raw. But remember during the Hogan reign the Undertaker was “exclusive” to Raw. Also, they usually waited till the last week to really hype the next PPV. I’m looking just at the 4 Hogan episodes of Smackdown. 4/25/2: Hogan gives a speech, Main Event = Y2J vs. Triple H. 5/2/2: Main Event = Y2J vs. Hogan – title match. 5/9/2: Hogan speech, ME = Y2J & Angle vs. Hogan & Edge. 5/16/2: Hogan/Vince in-ring confrontation, ME = = Y2J & Angle vs. Triple H & Edge. So, Hogan wrestled twice during his title reign on Smackdown. Y2J wrestled in all 4 main events, so he can get some blame too.

    Also, some people have commented that hot angles are a more important factor regardless of who the champion is. That is only true in limited conditions. During the Austin/McMahon feud, the main focus was for Austin to retain the title despite Vince’s trickery. During the NWO, the focus was for someone from WCW to take Hogan's title for them to succeed. And during the Invasion, Austin had to retain the title on behalf of the Alliance.

    BTW, with all the hype for the Undertaker, I wouldn’t count on him doing much mid-card slumming.






He won't be there for long, but he'll probably take on a mid card opponent in February, to show that he is trying to give the rub to one of the young guys/Big Slug. Then he'll continue his undefeated streak at Mania over a slightly under main event wrestler. Following Mania, he'll have the momentum from continuing his undefeated at Mania streak alive, and thus be vaulted into the main event pictue once again. Since '97, the only time that Taker was not in a main event in at least 1 PPV between Mania and KOTR was in '00 and that was because he was injured. And even then, he did do a run in on the Kavana/Trip iron man main event.
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