When it is all said and done, Vince McMahon will go down in history as the guy who brought pro wrestling to the masses. He took a small regional wrestling promotion and turned it into a global phenomenon.
Vince McMahon is the WWE and the WWE is Vince McMahon. I have a feeling that he has a few more tricks up his sleeve before his time is done.
Would it not be grand to see Vince McMahon turn Wrestlemania into a network television phenomenon?
Wrestlemania is the WWE's version of the Superbowl. For nearly the past 30 years, the WWE has treated its fans with a spectacle like no other. Wrestlemania is where legends are born. Wrestlemania is where year long feuds come to ahead. The WWE is entertainment in its purest form. Why should the rest of the world be shut out of its marquee event?
Why can't the WWE showcase all that they have to offer?
The WWE already has a long standing relationship with NBC. Why not move Wrestlemania to a format where the masses can consume? Does the WWE have the same amount of fans as the NFL? Of course not. But let's crunch some numbers.
This past years Wrestlemania was reported to have brought in just over a million buys on pay-per-view. At 60 dollars a pop were talking about roughly sixty million dollars in revenue. Now I know that these figures are rough, but it does not really matter for the point that I am making. Now if one million households purchase Wrestlemania on pay-per-view, we can safely assume that those one million households contain current WWE fans.
Follow me so far?
If Wrestlemania is your marquee, show-off, end all be all event, and only current WWE fans are watching, how does the WWE expect to grow its core viewing audience? Would the NFL be where it is today if the Superbowl was a pay-per-view event? Of course not. The NFL's popularity has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years due to a great product and savvy marketing.
The reason that Superbowl is a huge deal every year is because the NFL made it a huge deal. Now just imagine Wrestlemania Sunday, with a two hour pre-event show, featuring live music, Superstar Interviews, or even red-carpet arrivals. This kind of event would be exciting for the hardcore fans as well as your casual fans. Most important, it would open the doors of the WWE to a whole new audience that normally would never watch.
Now you may argue that the WWE needs the revenue stream brought in from pay-per-view buys. Let's go back to the 60 million dollars from earlier. (Like I said, it is a rough ballpark number). Could that money not be easily made up in advertising for the event? Even if the money paid by companies for commercial spots did not equal the money that would have been made from pay-per-view, the long term positive effect on business would be tremendous.
You can be assured that Wrestlemania on NBC would do a huge rating. What wrestling fan, casual or hardcore, would not be watching? Older fans who have lost their interest would tune in to see where the product currently stands. The excitement and buzz alone would have people tuning in who normally would never watch WWE, and that is how new fans are born. That is why WWE was dominating the ratings in the late 90's. Word of mouth has new people tuning in every week.
It has happened before and it will happen again.
We already know that the WWE has stellar talent, amazing marketing, and a phenomenal production value. It is time to open the doors of Wrestlemania to anyone who wants to take a peek. The momentum of going live to the world on network television would be tremendous and exciting for everyone involved.
This could be the transition the WWE needs to take sports entertainment to the next level.