Per the report:
“The preliminary Summerslam figure is the product of WWE reporting an average of 273,000 buys for the first two events in Q3-2012. The first PPV of the quarter, Money in the Bank, drew a preliminary total of 196,000 buys. Summerslam's prelim figure of 350,000 buys averaged with MITB results in the 273,000 average.”
This is an 18% increase over the preliminary numbers for the 2011 event, headlined by CM Punk vs. John Cena in a title unification match (WWE Champion vs. WWE Champion). Punk and Cena also met at this year’s event as part of a Triple Threat Match that also included The Big Show.
This increase seems significant, but is it? The 2010 event drew the same number, and last year’s buy rate of 311,000 was a bigger disappointment than this year’s number is a success.
In fact, according to a Wrestling News World report from 2011, SummerSlam’s buy rate has been dropping every year since 2007, when the event scored 537,000 buys. This year's event finally breaks that trend.
What can we really learn from these figures?
We can easily determine that business is down for the WWE’s second-most important pay-per-view of the year. 2007’s event was headlined by John Cena vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship and Batista vs. The Great Khali for the World Heavyweight Championship. This year’s card arguably featured stronger top matches compared to the 2007 effort.
However, you can also determine that Brock Lesnar is, in fact, a big draw for the WWE, despite his sporadic schedule. According to a separate PWTorch report, the 2012 WWE Extreme Rules pay-per-view event outdrew the 2011 effort by 35,000 buys. This event was headlined by Lesnar’s in-ring return against John Cena.
That means that both of Lesnar's pay-per-view appearances have led to significant increases in the specific event’s performance over the prior year.
In 2012, the WWE has seen that Lesnar equals ratings and buy rates. His reported $5 million contract is paying off for the WWE. So why not bring him in for more appearances?
That would require more money, as his current contract limits his number of appearances. This is something the WWE can handle.
But it could also take the novelty out of Lesnar, and I’d argue that the novelty is driving the buy rate up for the Lesnar-headlined events. I would advise the WWE to keep him away until the next big events, Survivor Series and The Royal Rumble.
Oh, and figure out a way to make him so special that he outdraws the 2007 totals!
You decide: Does the increase in pay-per-view buys mean Brock Lesnar is worth a $5 million contract? Should he be re-signed to a new deal next year?