POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: WWE notes on TV ratings, Network, COVID-19

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/07/27/pollocks-news-update-wwe-notes-on-tv-ratings-network-covid-19/


MONDAY: Rewind-A-Raw with John Pollock & Wai Ting
TUESDAY: ASK-A-WAI mailbag show with John & Wai (Patreon)
WEDNESDAY: Rewind-A-Dynamite
WEDNESDAY: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
FRIDAY: WWE Q3 Analysis with guest Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics
FRIDAY: Rewind-A-SmackDown (LIVE at 10:15 pm Eastern for all Patrons)


**For POST Wrestling Café members, we have a POST Show coming out of New Japan’s Sengoku Lord event with Wai Ting & Mike Murray reviewing the show and New Japan’s upcoming plans including a big event set for August at Jingu Stadium.

**We are back with Rewind-A-Raw tonight as Wai Ting and I will review Raw, discuss all the latest news, a preview of the week coming up and we will take your feedback.

**On Tuesday night, this month’s ASK-A-WAI mailbag show will be released with Wai & I answering your questions submitted in the POST Wrestling Forum.

**Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics will be joining us for a bonus show Friday to discuss the WWE’s second-quarterly report and earnings call.


**Tonight’s episode of Raw from the Performance Center was taped last Monday and comes off a terrible number last week for a heavily advertised match between Randy Orton and Big Show. The build for SummerSlam should start to take form tonight with Randy Orton starting the show by announcing “his next target” and setting up the Raw tag title match for the August pay-per-view. Below is what has been advertised for tonight’s show:
*Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler in a non-title match – This is now being advertised as non-title with McIntyre choosing the stipulation right before the match
*Asuka vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw women’s title – The title can change hands by pinfall, submission, disqualification, or count-out
*Andrade & Angel Garza vs. Viking Raiders vs. Ricochet & Cedric Alexander – the winners challenge The Street Profits for the Raw tag titles at SummerSlam
*Dominik confronts Seth Rollins
*Randy Orton kicks off the show

**Mike Johnson at PWinsider.com reports that Nia Jax will back on tonight’s episode of Raw.

**We have a story on the site about Monday’s announcement that DDT and Pro Wrestling NOAH will be merging under a new banner called CyberFight and appears to be a direct response to the effects of the pandemic. The merger takes effect on September 1st with Sanshiro Takagi installed as its president. They explained that they would be separate divisions of the company with the in-ring style not changing and made it appear this was a way to fortify its business structure and make it more efficient rather than sweeping changes to the on-screen content. Takagi added that desire to run a proper Tokyo Dome card and hopes of overtaking New Japan, which are nice goals to have even though both would be characterized as very ambitious.

**New Japan will hold a press conference early Tuesday morning at 4 am Eastern for the Jingu Stadium card on Saturday, August 29th.

**Earlier this month, WWE held a virtual shareholders meeting involving its executive staff for a company update. Brandon Thurston at Wrestlenomics has a great review of the call and below are some of the highlights:
*Those on the call included Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Paul Levesque, Interim CFO Frank Riddick III, incoming CFO Kristina Salen, as well as executives John Brody, Jayar Donlan, Brian Flinn, Jim Johnstone, James Rosenstock, Brian Stedman, Michael Weitz, and other directors with the company
*They noted advertising partnerships with Hyundai, Coca-Cola, Mars, Unilever, Microsoft, and KFC.
*Their response to COVID-19 has included shifting its corporate staff to working from home, a reduction in management compensation, lowering its headcount of employees through furloughs, a delay in its new headquarters, temporarily suspending its stock repurchase program, and drawing $200 million from a credit facility
*They have approximately $500 million in liquidity to deal with the challenges
*During the Q&A, Riddick stated the free version of the WWE Network has had “early positive results, but nothing definitive” – last week, Stephanie McMahon had noted network engagement was up 67% and you would have to attribute a sizable portion of that to the opening of the free tier and the promotion they did when the pandemic began where lots of content was made free
*In a major shift from the George Barrios & Michelle Wilson era, Riddick said that they don’t believe a premium tiered system is an optimum approach to maximize the subscription value. Instead, they are going with the free model to bring in new subscribers with the hope of converting them while also developing “local currency pricing in select international markets”
*The WWE UK Performance Center has been inactive since March when the pandemic hit and are seeking out solutions to create new in-ring content from the NXT UK brand
*They are hopeful of running another event in Saudi Arabia before the end of 2020 but cannot guarantee that
*They have a back-up plan in case they were not allowed to run shows in Florida
*The cost-cutting measures in April had nothing to do with the XFL

**During the shareholders Q&A, Vince McMahon gave the following response regarding falling television numbers (transcribed by Brandon Thurston):

The media echo system obviously has changed. We change with it. Our engagement metrics across platforms are understandably and obviously — however, 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 and consistently the number-one broadcast show on Fridays among key demos.

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.

From Paul Levesque on the role of NXT as either a feeder system or a third brand for the company, as well as its television numbers:

So I think if you were to look at the NXT brand, it would be both. While it is, as Frank mentioned earlier, a third global brand, along with Raw and Smackdown, and our partners at USA, it is also the place where we make new stars and increase our talent and stars for the future, of both Raw and Smackdown. So that is the pipeline, and that is the — if you wanted to say, ‘the feeder system’, it is that, but it also has become its own third brand.

As far as the ratings go, I’m very happy with them, especially in the current circumstances. Everything is going well. We look at the long-term of that, not the short-term of that. And the long term is very exciting. We have a lot of stars. There are a lot of hungry young athletes, and the pipeline to bring in more as they continue to train and get better is very exciting. The future is very bright in that regard.

**WWE will hold its second-quarter earnings call this Thursday and release its earnings report for the period covering April through June and a better reflection of the impact COVID-19 has had on the company. Just as they did for the first quarter, the earnings call will take place on Thursday evening at 5 pm Eastern, unlike their usual Thursday morning call. We will be doing a show with Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics on Friday to discuss the earnings report and the conference call.

**Friday Night SmackDown is listed at 1,924,000 viewers on Fox from this past Friday and a 0.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic, which makes SmackDown the top network show for the evening. It would be the third consecutive week that SmackDown has grown in total viewers and their highest viewership since June 26th.

**The death of Regis Philbin brings up lots of connections the television star had with professional wrestling primarily his long friendship with Freddie Blassie. When Philbin was getting his big start in San Diego, Blassie was a regular guest on his show and would be flown to do the show on the set that led to good publicity for the wrestling star while wrestling in Los Angeles. As Philbin’s career progressed, he always had Blassie on including when Philbin took over the slot previously housing The Mike Douglas Show and then Philbin’s ascension on daytime television with Kathie Lee Gifford.

In Blassie’s book that came out in 2003, he dedicated several pages to his relationship with Philbin with the host providing a lengthy quote and several photos of the two together on set. He had tons of wrestlers on their show including Hulk Hogan, Diesel, Steve Austin, Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels, and an infamous appearance by Rick Rude that left Kathy Lee very upset over his antics.

**AEW has announced a “State of the Industry Address” from MJF this Wednesday on Dynamite.

**The WWE stock closed at $44.91 on Monday.

**A correction from last Wednesday’s Rewind-A-Dynamite show, I had stated Sammy Guevara missed three episodes of the show from his suspension, but it was four shows. Guevara was suspended on Monday, June 22nd and missed the June 24th, July 1st, July 8th, and July 15th shows and returned at the end of last week’s show that was taped on July 16th. Guevara will be wrestling on Tuesday’s episode of AEW Dark.

**Stardom has revealed the Red and Blue blocks for their forthcoming Five Star Grand Prix that begins on Saturday, August 8th, and runs until September 19th. The Red Block will include Mayu Iwatani (World of Stardom champion), Giulia (Wonder of Stardom champion), Tam Nakano, Konami, Starlight Kid, Saya Kamitani, DEATH Yama-san, and Himeka. The Blue Block will feature Momo Watanabe, Utami Hayashashita, Jungle Kyona, AZM (High-Speed champion), Natsuko Tora, Saki Kashima, Shuri, and Maika (Future of Stardom champion).

The first Grand Prix begins on August 8th at Korakuen Hall with the following opening night matches:
*Natsuko Tora vs. Shuri
*AZM vs. Saki Kashima
*Utami Hayashashita vs. Jungle Kyona
*Momo Watanabe vs. Maika
*Starlight Kid vs. DEATH Yama-san
*Konami vs. Saya Kamitani
*Tam Nakamo vs. Himeka
*Maya Iwantani vs. Giulia

**Here are the results from New Japan’s “Summer Struggle” card at Korakuen Hall on Monday in front of a sell-out of 482 fans:
*Ryusuke Taguchi, Satoshi Kojima & Togi Makabe over Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Gabriel Kidd
*Shingo Takagi & Bushi over Toru Yano & Yoshi-Hashi
*Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado over Yuji Nagata & Yuya Uemura
*Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato over Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Douki
*Yujiro & Gedo over Kazuchika Okada & SHO after Yujiro pinned SHO with Pimp Juice
*EVIL, Dick Togo & Taiji Ishimori over Tetsuya Naito, Sanada & Hiromu Takahashi

**Impact Wrestling is advertising the following matches for Tuesday’s episode at 8 pm Eastern on AXS TV:
*Eddie Edwards vs. Trey for the Impact title
*Deonna Purrazzo vs. Kimber Lee in a non-title match
*The Good Brothers vs. Reno Scum
*A medical update on Rich Swann

**The latest edition of Being the Elite was released on Monday.

**New Japan resumes its tour on Wednesday in Shizuoka and return to Korakuen Hall this Friday.

**MLW has signed a streaming deal with Digital Original Entertainment for its streaming service, the DOE TV Network that will launch this fall. MLW’s flagship series MLW Fusion will launch on the service in September.

**The legendary Gordon Solie died on this date in 2000 at the age of 71 after suffering from throat cancer.

**Paul Levesque turns 51 today, Dolph Ziggler (Nick Nemeth) turns 40, and Hangman Page is 29.


On this day in 1986, Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto was the location to this awesome Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat IC title match!https://t.co/4R7d120iqm pic.twitter.com/l36C4eLITM

— Richard Land (@maskedwrestlers) July 27, 2020




**Gilbert Melendez has been issued a two-year sanction by USADA for violating its anti-doping policy following a urine test that was submitted last October. Melendez tested positive for GHRP-6 and its metabolites in the sample provided on October 16, 2019.

Melendez did not contest the presence of the substance or identify a source where it could have come from, but he did challenge USADA’s jurisdiction to conduct the test. It went to arbitration with the ruling in USADA’s favor. Melendez’s suspension is retroactive to November 1st and he will be eligible to compete on that date in 2021.

This is the second drug test failure in Melednez’s career following a one-year suspension he served after testing positive in June 2015 for a prohibited substance. Melendez will be 39 by the time his suspension is up and hasn’t won a fight since October 2016. He has gone 0-5 since that victory and last competed in July 2019 losing by unanimous decision to Arnold Allen and was cut last year.

**In an outline of Melendez’s case, his side argued that Melendez should not have subjected to USADA’s testing. His side outlined that it was decided in late September or early October that Melendez’s contract would be cut (and officially let go on October 12th) but his manager wasn’t notified until on or about November 1st with a letter sent to Melendez days later. Melendez said if he knew he had been cut he shouldn’t have been subjected to the testing and that UFC should have notified USADA immediately when they decided to cut him.

It also added that the two-year sanction only applies to Melendez fighting in the UFC and not with other promotions:

The Arbitrator rules that any sanction (i.e., period of ineligibility) for Mr. Melendez’ ADPV that is imposed pursuant to the UFC ADP could only expressly prohibit him from competing in UFC bouts or fights for the length of his suspension. If another mixed martial arts organization unilaterally chooses to prohibit Mr. Melendez from fighting or participating in its competitions until his UFC suspension expires, its decision is not the product of an anticompetitive agreement with the USADA. Nor would the mixed martial arts organization’s unilateral decision constitute a noncompetition agreement with the UFC.

In conclusion, the Arbitrator notes that it is regrettable that the UFC did not immediately notify Mr. Melendez and USADA of its decision to terminate his Promotion Agreement, so that he could have been removed promptly from the UFC RTP and not been subject to an October 16, 2019 doping control. It is equally regrettable that laboratory analysis of his urine sample resulted in an AAF for a substance whose usage by an athlete and presence in his system is prohibited by the UFC ADP, which gave rise to this arbitration proceeding.

**Bellator’s main card averaged 277,000 viewers on Friday night on the Paramount Network and did a 0.09 rating in the 18-49 demographic. The card was headlined by Sergio Pettis defeating Ricky Bandejas by unanimous decision in Bellator’s first live event since February.

**The UFC has completed its month-long stay in Abu Dhabi following this past Saturday’s card and return to Las Vegas for shows beginning this Saturday. The weekend’s show lost its main event between Holly Holm and Irene Aldana and in its place is the middleweight fight between Derek Brunson and undefeated Edmen Shahbazyan.

There are eleven fights on the card with an interesting fight involving Joanne Calderwood and Jennifer Maia with Calderwood taking the spot of Viviane Araujo, who contracted COVID-19. Calderwood is the next challenger in line for the flyweight title but with Valentina Shevchenko unavailable to fight right now and Calderwood not fighting since September, she decided to take this fight to stay ready. While it’s always a gamble, Calderwood staying on the sidelines longer presents some risks too and it’s not like this division is rife with contenders while Calderwood will also be a heavy favorite.

Vicente Luque and Randy Brown could be a great fight on the main card as could Lando Vanatta vs. Bobby Green. The main card rounds out with Kevin Holland, who is coming off a 0:39 win in his last outing as he takes on Trevin Giles.

**The UFC is set to run every Saturday night in August with cards from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas including UFC 252 on August 15th headlined by Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier for the heavyweight title. This also coincides with the return of Dana White’s Contender Series beginning Tuesday, August 4th, and running weekly on Fight Pass.

**Bellator returns on Friday, August 7th with a card headlined by a lightweight rematch between Michael Chandler and Benson Henderson and a heavyweight fight between Matt Mitrione and Timothy Johnson. Chandler defeated Henderson by split decision in November 2016 when Chandler was their lightweight champion. Henderson has won his last four fights while Chandler is coming off a knockout win against Sidney Outlaw (Outlaw was a replacement for Henderson who was injured several weeks before the fight in December 2019).

**Bellator is advertising the card airing on the Paramount Network and DAZN that night. When Bellator initially promoted this past Friday’s card, they only mentioned the Paramount Network and their YouTube channel as the outlets to watch but later in the week added to DAZN to its advertising.

**Invicta FC is back this Thursday with a show from Kansas City, Kansas airing on Fight Pass at 8 pm Eastern. The show is headlined by Janaisa Morandin taking on Montserrat Ruiz.

**ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reports that a light heavyweight fight between Johnny Walker and Ryan Spann has been added to UFC 253 on September 19th at a location TBA (it is expected to be on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi but that isn’t official). Spann joined the UFC after appearing on Dana White’s Contender Series in the summer of 2018.

Spann has gone 4-0 in the UFC and recently defeated Sam Alvey by split decision at UFC 249 in May. Walker joined the promotion in 2018 after appearing on the Brazilian version of the Contender Series and produced several highlight-reel performances with quick stoppage victories against Khalil Rountree Jr., Justin Ledet, and Misha Cirkunov. He was stopped by Corey Anderson in the opening round of their November 2019 fight and last fought in March losing by decision to Nikita Krylov.



NJPW Sengoku Lord POST Show with Wai Ting & Mike Murray

Wai Ting and Mike Murray review NJPW Sengoku Lord 2020 as Bullet Club’s EVIL makes his first IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Title defense against former LIJ stablemate, Hiromu Takahashi.
TRMPS #19: Fast & Furious 6 (2013) w/ Joey Lewandowski & Joe Two

Nate Milton takes another trip to the “Fastiverse” with Joey Lewandowski & Joe Two (2 Fast 2 Forever). The guys sit down in the theater (six feet apart, of course) to review the 2013 box-office blockbuster, “Fast & Furious 6”!
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 7/24/20: Sheamus-Hardy Bar Fight, Naomi on MizTV

Wai Ting is joined by Kristen Ashly (Bell to Belles, Association of Women in Wrestling) to review this week’s WWE SmackDown featuring Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus in a Bar Fight, Naomi addresses #NaomiDeservesBetter on MizTV, and Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki Cross for a shot at Bayley’s championship.
BRITISH WRESTLING EXPERIENCE: Wrestling Resurgence w/ Dr. Claire Warden & Sam West

Martin is joined by Dr. Claire Warden & Sam West of the theatre-led professional wrestling and arts organization, Wrestling Resurgence. They chat about the origins of the project, their backgrounds as academics, the ethos behind the company, and the highlights of the promotion.
upNXT 7/22/20: Krossing The Line

Braden Herrington and Davie Portman review the July 22nd edition of WWE NXT featuring the announcement of NXT TakeOver: XXX and Dominik Dijakovic vs Karrion Kross in the main event.

John Pollock and Wai Ting discuss AEW Dynamite featuring Chris Jericho & Jake Hager vs. Jurassic Express, Eddie Kingston answers Cody’s open challenge, Stephanie McMahon does a big interview and Raw has another bad number.

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How many actual viewers, that count, have stopped watching? And by that I mean Nielsen households…

With the Nielsen TV ratings being so important to TV executives (and wrestling fans) you’d think there would be more specific information on what it’s all based on.

There are supposedly 40k Nielsen households. Supposedly 120m households with a TV. So Nielsen households are 0.00033r% of households with a TV and that’s each Nielsen household representing 3k households with a TV. But then there’s obviously a varying amount of people in each of these households making things more complicated to figure out.

I also read an article written by someone who was a part of a Nielsen household saying he’d just lie about how many guests where watching with him… https://www.vulture.com/2015/12/nielsen-family-what-its-like.html

Would it be illegal to just get a list of these households and just cater to them in order to manipulate the numbers? Or just give a thousand of them $20 each to keep it on a specific channel for a few hours to get 3 million viewers? I assume it probably is.

I would have to imagine that is fraud of some kind. What I dont get, (especially now that everything is digital) can’t cable and satellite providers provide networks with exact number? When analyzing internet traffic for example, you get exact number, its not like certain people have their computer history tracked while others don’t count. Why is it different with TV. Or is this some type of privacy issue?

It’s always a case of the ratings system (which isn’t perfect) being a broken model when numbers are down but few complaints when a show is on the ascent. I heard it over and over again with pay-per-view being a dead industry and yet, when there was a major fight it didn’t seem to be.

For better or worse, this is the system that is accepted and understood by advertisers and networks as the currency their industry is traded on.

It’s much like polling data going on ahead of the election where there will be a margin of error but often, numbers correlate to the trends of the candidate or in this case, a television program.

When Raw does a big reunion show and there is a big spike, as there was in July 2019, it’s not a coincidence that a heavily promoted show drew a larger audience rather then tricking a Nielsen home to be more apt to watch that week.

It isn’t like this model is that different from five years ago when Raw did 3.7 million viewers this week in 2015 and this week, they would happy to do half that figure.

Every argument that the ratings system is broken and inaccurate provides an equal counter argument that a more definitive model would show numbers to be even lower than the data from the sample size.


Hey John, no argument from me. My comments weren’t to imply at all that the numbers should be higher, if anything I believe they are lower.

I was more so just curious as to why they haven’t changed the system in years.

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I wasn’t suggesting that the system specifically under or over predicts. I was generally suggesting it’s a pretty flimsy and unreliable system whether it’s a positive or negative rating regardless of how accepted of a system it is. And was also wondering why there isn’t more information on the sources for the ratings. It’s all very vague when it comes to that.

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Not to speak for John by any means, but I understand his response. I think WWE apologists (even potentially WWE themselves) tend to point to the system as being flawed any time the ratings are down, while using the ratings to prove a point of success when the show does well. Its a hypocrisy that is definitely out there.

Whether you agree with the system, it’s one that the advertisers and networks use. It’s what their entire careers are based on. So any argument is irrelevant unless you have another means of collecting data


What do you think I’m arguing? I’m simply curious why the system hasn’t evolved.

As far as me having another means of collecting data, I’m guessing you didnt read my first post, but my first through is to get exact numbers from the cable and satellite companies. I believe with traditional TV (ie. antenna), you can’t track who is watching what which makes sense why they would use a Nielsen box (assuming broadcast TV used them), but I have to think that cable/satellite companies have the ability to get those numbers in 2020. I run a business, and I have a website, I am able to see exact analytics for it. Its not a small sample size of people who have a small box connected to their computers, its literally everybody. Why can’t TV be the same.

Of course I realize its the system that advertisers and networks use, I’m not questioning the idea that its the only option right now. With that said, like anything in life isnt a good thing to ask these types of questions so we can evolve and improve?

Sure, someone could try to improve things, but if the people in charge don’t care, then it makes no difference.
We all complain about the price of gas, but until we all use electric vehicles, we’re still at the oil companies mercy

All arguments on all forums are pretty much irrelevant. Doesn’t mean people shouldn’t discuss things. “Can’t change it so shut up about its flaws” is a pretty ridiculous take in my opinion especially as no one actually follows that thinking.

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Based on this logic, nobody should ever say a bad thing about WWE and Vince McMahon, because I would bet my life that he doesnt care AT ALL about what you, myself, or anyone else in this forum thinks.

We have the right to discuss it. If you don’t want to discuss it, ok cool, don’t insert yourself into the conversation.

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Sorry, my cynicism was showing :stuck_out_tongue:

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