We all should thank the pro wrestling gods for this news!
It has been reported that there are talks of TNA taking its flagship show, Impact, on the road for future tapings. These reports should be regarded as rumors until we hear or see an official announcement from the company itself.
However, the speculation is great enough by itself to warrant our shouts of joy and adulation. It has been a long time coming, and Impact is far overdue for Thursday night exposure outside of the Impact Zone located in Orlando, Florida.
One could reasonably conclude that the addition of Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Hardy and other well-known stars to the roster helped the company raise its profile and fan base to the point where taking Impact on the road became a viable option.
After all, it was under the Bischoff/Hogan regime that Impact received the company’s highest television rating ever on January 4, 2010 (1.5).
In light of this momentous news, we can now finally put to rest the wild and fanatic claims that the company is in dire straits.
This shocking news comes after the one year anniversary of a piece I submitted here on Bleacher Report dealing with the same exact topic.
Would taping Impact on the road be a wise business decision for TNA?
While it may seem as if I’m boasting of my own clairvoyance, the objective truth of the matter is that TNA wasted at least one precious year to grasp the opportunity to venture out of their beloved sanctuary in Orlando.
In that year, TNA has (a) seen the highest rating the company has ever garnered to date (1.5, Jan. 4, 2010), (b) seen the lowest rating the company has ever garnered to date (0.5, Apr. 29, 2010), and (c) has averaged a 1.06 rating for 2010 so far, which is just a bit lower than the 1.14 rating averaged in 2009.
Please keep in mind that while the ratings aren’t an accurate gauge of who’s watching the product, the quality of that product, or the number of individuals recording the show on DVR, it is the standard rough average of the number of casual viewers who tune into Spike TV during the show’s airing.
With this in mind and only one more show left to go in 2010, it seems as if TNA and Spike TV have lost a good number of viewers who flip to the station during Impact’s broadcast in the year that Bischoff and Hogan joined the company.
This would explain why there are some concerns that taking Impact on the road would either (a) attract crowds smaller than the ones that already pack the Impact Zone, or (b) only attract small crowds similar to the ones in the Impact Zone that are already familiar with the product.
This is also why I linked my article from a year ago early on in this piece; simply stated, TNA waited too damn long to take Impact on the road, and now they have to work twice as hard to make this move work in the company’s favor.
Is this a case where the ends justify the means? With all the pomp and circumstance that surrounded their arrival in the company, how effective have Hogan and Bischoff been in raising awareness of TNA’s product?
Judging by the aforementioned numbers, it looks like not very effective at all.
Eric Bischoff’s recent victory over the IWC in the form of Mike Barton makes our present discussion even more necessary.
Bischoff pointed out several times in his debate with Barton that in order to make claims that he (Bischoff) deserved to be fired, Barton needed concrete evidence and facts to back up his claims. These facts should include hard numbers from previous years compared to numbers and averages from 2010.
Seeing as TNA is a privately owned company, they are not legally bound to submit certain information to the public. In other words, Barton would have no legs to stand on because the only way he’d have access to these numbers was if he actually worked in or for TNA.
Anything regarding profits, merchandising numbers and PPV buyrates can and will remain in the hands of the people who work in the company. In all honesty, anyone outside of TNA can only guess or hypothesize about whether or not the company is doing “good” or "bad."
The only proof we have as fans and consumers that Bischoff and Hogan are worth their salt is the fact that they’ve yet to be fired from the company. Of course we also have to remember that they probably have ironclad contracts that stretch out for at least two to three years, but that’s neither here nor there.
At this point, our best hypothesis at the success or failure of the company comes from three very subjective and unreliable sources:
1. They haven't folded or been purchased by Vince McMahon.
2. The spotty ratings data from Nielsen that comes in weekly.
3. The reported attendance of house shows and PPVs taken on the road.
One can hardly base a particular stance either way—good or bad—solely on such observations and reports.
This creates a sort of impenetrable shield around TNA and its product, making it easy for the supporters and employees to be protected while saying “Everything’s fine,” and making it difficult for exposed detractors and proponents to challenge the grand celebration of mediocrity.
What is the grand celebration of mediocrity? Hiding behind a 1.06 average and claiming that 2010 was a better year for the company when the only data to prove or dismiss the claim is a higher rating average in 2009 and information that fans will never have immediate access to.
What is the grand celebration of mediocrity? Going on the offensive when Mike Barton is weak, then cowering behind generic statements such as "I'm not at liberty to discuss such matters," when the man questions the financial stability of the company.
Whatever the case may be, we can only assume that the Bischoff and Hogan regime has done enough to warrant the consideration of taking Impact on the road now as opposed to doing it a year ago when the company was turning a profit and had a slightly larger fan base than what they do now.
How do fans know that the company turned a profit last year? You need look no further for evidence than the High Definition upgraded Impact Zone and production teams and the acquisition of well-known stars and new talent such as Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Ken Anderson, and others.
In part, the whole purpose of bringing in these big name stars was to attract viewers to the product, i.e. grow TNA’s fan base.
Combine these top stars with a television taping outside of Orlando, then it's almost a lock that fans will flock to these tapings to witness the show live and perhaps even just for the chance to appear on television.
So why is there hesitation to take Impact on the road? Ironically enough, guess where that hesitation is coming from?
That's right, both Hogan and Bischoff are firmly against the idea of taking Impact on the road because of the company's current financial situation. Remember, this is a financial "crunch" that TNA is not supposed to be experiencing due to the company's higher profile in 2010 compared to previous years.
It is a huge financial strain on a pro wrestling company to travel across the United States, let alone carry tons of high definition equipment and sets with them. This is probably why there is some resistance to moving the company at this point in time. Terry Funk even mentioned this in an interview some time ago.
One defining principle in the world of business is that it takes money to make money. There is no reward without some sort of risk. For all of us less business-savvy people, this principle is called an investment.
TNA chose to invest in Hogan, Bischoff, a slew of cronies and ill-conceived story lines and creative directions in order to raise the company's fan base and television/PPV viewership. The more people watch the product and are aware of it, the more money they'll spend on it.
The more money fans spend on the company, the more profit they'll be able to make in a given quarter and fiscal year. The more profit they rake in, the more they'll be able to do bigger and better things to enhance the quality of their product and the visibility of the company.
It's one big simple circle of growth, ladies and gentlemen.
Now moving into the company's ninth year of existence, after several landmark acquisitions and after upgrading the Impact Zone to meet today's digital and high definition standards, TNA is still shooting out of the same damn soundstage it was in 2004.
And then, when someone suggests again that Impact should be taken on the road, the two men that were hired to essentially increase the company's profile and revenue are the most vocal about staying in Orlando because the company doesn't have the money to do it???
This is acceptable by our standards as fans? And the only "growth" we've witnessed in the company is an unreliable television rating system that shows us compared to last year's average the company has lost viewers?
TNA should have really started this process a year ago before bringing in Hogan and Bischoff, thus immediately impacting the business and their product with the fans. Instead, money and time were wasted unnecessarily on talent, waging a “war” against the WWE machine, and recuperating from talent loses.
Instead all fans are left with are 365 more days of thumb-twiddling nonsense that has a viewership consisting of people who still have rabbit ears on top of their television sets.
This is by no means saying that the company hasn't grown, but one would reasonably assume that after spending six years cooped up in a soundstage at a theme park, TNA would have taken at least one Impact episode on the road.
They didn't, and I guess they won't be able to for at least another six months if they continue to operate as they are now. Feel free to insert the "let's just give it time" remarks here.
By the way, did I mention ReAction was cancelled by Spike TV?