Vince McMahon says history is on WWE’s side in the television ratings game.
McMahon spoke at WWE’s annual shareholder meeting on July 16 and one question he addressed was the current ratings skid and how the company plans to fix things. McMahon (via Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston) said the company has a thirty-year history of creating compelling content and they remain confident they can do that even in the challenging environment of a COVID-19 world.
“We have a 30-plus year track record of creating compelling characters and engaging a variety of audiences, and we obviously remain confident we can continue that with our collective ability, even in the most challenging environments with no live audience. The media echo system obviously has changed. We change with it. Our engagement metrics across platforms are understandably and obviously — however,” McMahon said, “the importance of linear programming is paramount in all of our businesses — we consistently have seen year-over-year increases in a variety of digital metrics and engagement. And positive trends have continued, even during COVID.
“Conversely, TV viewership trends have been negatively impacted by COVID, obviously, and the lack of a live audience. We are still nonetheless the number-one television show on USA [Network] and consistently the number-one broadcast show on Fridays among key demos,” McMahon said. “We expect a combination of valuable promotional inventory from our TV partners with the return of sports events programming. And a deep roster of charismatic talent will have a positive impact on viewership over the long-term.”
In a follow-up to that point later in the call, Paul “Triple H” Levesque fielded a question about the effect All Elite Wrestling has had on WWE’s market share. Levesque said there’s certainly some excitement that comes with AEW being a new promotion, but WWE has a proven track record and the wrestling world is certainly large enough to withstand a new competitor.
“To me, there’s a moment in time when you begin something and it’s very exciting and it’s fresh and there’s some interest in it, certainly. But it’s a big world. We continue to be focused on our product, continue to be focused on the development of our stars and our performers. And as Vince said earlier,” Levesque said, “we have a very long track record of doing this incredibly successfully for many, many, many years, and we will continue to do so.”