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TNA Impact Wrestling Ratings Hitting Dangerous Territory

Hulk Hogan and Eric BischoffWe have all heard the spin for months after TNA Wrestling sees a dip in the Impact Wrestling rating. Good demos, lots of competition, and oh yes DVRs. However, Impact has dipped to such a low that even the biggest TNA optimists have to be in panic mode.

This past Thursday’s August 18 TNA Impact Wrestling rating is out and it isn’t pretty. According to reports, Impact did a whopping 1.05 rating. The last time an Impact episode dipped that low was back on June 9. The rating continues a trend of dipping ratings that could see TNA fall below a 1.0 within the next six weeks.

This is not good news at all. The pay per view buyrates aren’t much better. According to a report, the last two TNA Wrestling pay per views did around 8,000 buys, specifically Destination X and Hardcore Justice. To put it into even more perspective, Sting vs. Kurt Angle at one time on TNA pay per view did 50,000 buys. That is down 42,000 buys since their last match. Ouch!

A deeper look into the numbers shows that Impact averaged 1.46 million viewers. That is down from last week’s 1.54. The quick slide is almost unprecedented, even for TNA. The slide began on July 20 when TNA averaged a 1.26 rating and has dipped every week to this week’s all new low of 1.05. According to the report in the PWTorch.com, the 2011 Impact average is a 1.19 so this is very bad news.

To put the number into perspective, the final episode of ECW on the SyFy channel did a 1.14 rating with 1,445,000 viewers. Yes, this week’s Impact as well as the last three weeks did either ECW or less numbers. I don’t care what Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, or Dixie Carter tell you, this is bad news.

I went to check out Eric Bischoff’s Twitter account to see exactly how he’d spin these wonderful numbers. I wasn’t surprised to see nothing mentioned about TNA Impact ratings. Instead, he is busy bashing Obama for campaigning on tax payer’s money. If I were Bischoff, I’d probably stay away from tweeting about wasted money. As a matter of a fact you have to go back to July 28 to read anything about TNA on his Twitter page which simply says he is “looking forward to Impact.

So he’s the one!

Bischoff was quite vocal back in June when TNA took heat for low Impact ratings. He posted the following on his Facebook.

What the 10%’ers and the dirtsites that feed them don’t want to report: Per Spike TV, Impact Wrestling was the #1 cable show in its time period among M18-49 despite under-delivering its STD average among key demos and TNA increased from its Jail (rpt) lead-in by +129% in M18-49 (.78), with an additional +6% gain in the following quarter hour. TNA peaked in the 10:15p quarter with a .99 in M18-49.

Again, he hasn’t said a word about the latest trend in dropping ratings. For a guy that loves to spin the facts, even he has nothing to spin at the moment.

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TNA defenders love to point to Jersey Shore and the return of the NFL as a reason for the declining ratings. To believe that cow dung excuse you’d have to show me numbers where TNA were doing 2.0s during the NFL offseason and Jersey Shore reruns. The fact of the matter is that there is very little if any crossover between the audiences. Just look back when TNA used Jersey Shore girls on their show. J Woww’s segment on that particular Impact episode was the lowest rated segment of the show! The argument just doesn’t hold any water!

I think it is clear that the antiquated storylines featuring guys like Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Sting, and even Kurt Angle who are passed their primes is a big factor here. Combine that with dumb storylines, ridiculous angles, and one of the worst audience tracks on television, and you have every reason not to watch Impact on Thursday nights.

The bottom line here is the current direction of TNA is killing the company. Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and Vince Russo are completely out of touch with what fans in 2011 want to see as an alternative to the WWE product. The WWE just gave fans a fresh, fun storyline with CM Punk whereas TNA is offering you up Ric Flair vs. Sting in 2011. It just isn’t working and beyond the thousands of wasted dollars on talents who aren’t drawing, you have people in charge who just don’t get pro wrestling in 2011.

This could get ugly quick. TNA has a golden opportunity to become a bigger part of the Spike TV brand with the UFC jumping ship to Fox. On the flip side, Spike could look at the numbers and decide they want to completely change their brand altogether, leaving TNA Wrestling in the dust. I am not saying that is going to happen, but it is a possibility. TNA picked a bad time to deliver low Impact ratings and a continued slide in ratings could influence a decision at Spike that won’t be in their favor.

How do you fix it? Easy, get the booking team out of there. Clean house. Bring in someone that has a track record of connecting with pro wrestling audiences or give someone a shot with fresh ideas. At the end of the day you need to look no further than the writing to find the culprit.

Not all is lost. This can be turned around. The company was doing better ratings a month ago. That audience is still out there somewhere. However, if the company decides to wait too long to make a move, they could lose that audience forever, their television, and the company as a whole.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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