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Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Will the WWE crack the code for attracting ratings?

So did you watch Raw? Did you break the code? I didn’t. I thought it was going to be the return of either Nathan Jones, Steve Blackman or Taka Michinoku. As it was, it was some bloke called Chris Jericho. Never heard of him. What a disappointment.

Seriously though, Y2J is back, and he did so in typically flamboyant style last night on Raw. But was it an anti climax? The campaign, however you look at it, was a first; a very unique method of hinting at someone’s appearance. However, the proof of it’s success will now come in the form of the ratings.

If the rating is significantly up this week, then the viral campaign has done its first job. If not (and for the record, I think it will go up, but not by much and not for more than a week or so) then they should be looking to put into effect a plan which at Survivor Series seemed to be played out a bit. Namely, interesting TV.

Wow, now there is a radical concept, huh? What I mean, really, is that the best way of getting people back is continually produce interesting, gripping and surprising TV. I’m not asking for Vince Russo-style “Crash TV” where all kinds of nonsensical swerves take place merely in the hope of shocking people, but I mean interesting storylines, matches and booked angles where you don’t know the destination.

I thought Survivor Series was a cracking PPV, for what its worth. The opening ECW title match was a belter, the Tri-branded Survivor Series elimination tag was full of star power and although Triple H’s team going over was predictable, the match was good, and they look like they are using The Game’s star status to give Jeff Hardy a rub. Orton v HBK was good without being outstanding, but I had no idea who would win, and I loved the ending, which made sense within the storyline. It gave Orton a clean victory (and HBK on Raw said that the better man won) but didn’t bury Shawn because of the Superkick stipulation. Taker v Batista didn’t grip me, but for two big men they’ve had a good run of great matches, but I don’t mind not having a clean finish if you have a great impactful shock appearance like we saw form Edge.

Speaking of which, do you remember I said that Batista being put over by the Deadman surprised me a bit? I think Edge and Undertaker should have a long feud in which Edge is allowed at least one victory. Undertaker is in a position now where he should be helping groom the future. To Michaels’ credit, I think he elevated John Cena and is doing so with Orton.

Back to idea of improving ratings with good TV. Think about it this way. Who knew that Chris Jericho was coming back? Well, the people who read the news sites, the people who watch Raw and deciphered the code. The people who watch anyway, basically. Sure, you’ll probably get an extra couple make sure they watch rather than being the floating viewer that they are. But if Raw next week is no good they’ll stop watching .

Keep swerves like Edge returning to hit Taker. Keep unexpected twists like Finlay interfering with Hornswaggle. Keep associations like Triple H and Hardy. Keep entertaining promos. Mix it all up and what will happen is that the show will become very good, and the core audience will enjoy it more. Do it over a consistent period of time and the PPVs will get better on a regular basis. Advertising one big match for a show then not really delivering big style might attract a few short term, but will turn people off long term. A consistently good show will keep people watching, and the floating viewers might stay, and some of those who used to tune in may get hooked again.

If the TV improves and the ratings improve, that will be the true second coming.

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