WK BLOG: Did Hogan, Sting, and Flair help or hurt Impact last Thursday? Making sense of the ratings
By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
TNA Impact ratings most often follow a pattern of a strong Q1 (Quarter 1, i.e. the first 15 minutes), then a drop off as the hour progresses, then a rebound at the start of hour two, then they turn off more viewers as the show progresses, and depending on the quality of hype for the main event and how many commercial breaks there are in Q8, the rating may peak at the end. All too often - and almost unheard of in TV - Impact turns away more viewers than it attracts as the show progresses, a consistent damning statistic when it comes to the booking philosophy and execution of the show.
Last Thursday's Impact, though, was more alarming than usual.
The show opened with a 1.26 in Q1 and held strong with a 1.27 in Q2. The strong Q2 is due to the Knockouts match in that quarter and there only being one commercial break in Q2 instead of there often being two.
Then the ratings sank to a 1.19 and 1.15 to end the hour, a pretty steep decrease.
But at the start of hour two, for the Sting-Hulk Hogan-Ric Flair segment, the rating popped to a 1.44, one of the best quarters in a long time. Remember, this is the first week Flair was advertised for the show, since last week was a surprise to move viewers.
Then the ratings crashed the rest of the show to a 1.15, below the overall average rating of 1.2 for the full two hours. The Kurt Angle vs. Crimson main event wasn't enough to improve over the previous half hour audience level.
So does this reflect well on the drawing power of Hogan, Flair, and Sting? For sure. That's a good rating for a quarter hour. However, for the rating to drop so sharply thereafter may reflect poorly on the content of the Hogan-Flair-Sting segment. Were viewers turned off by the content enough that 10 percent tuned out immediately afterward?
Or is this mainly an issue with the awkward A.J. Styles-Christopher Daniels segment with the uncomfortable forced crying by Daniels in his self-pity segment (which I assume is leading toward a heel turn for him, so that's fine, but in the mean time it's a big cringe-inducing)? Did people see Styles and Daniels walk out and just decide to flip channels, and then never returned since the Hogan-Sting-Flair segment did nothing to advertise the main event?
The lesson I'd take from this if I were in TNA would be to make sure the typical peak rating at the start of hour two always includes a substantial plug for the main event. Ideally, the wrestlers in the main event should be positioned at the start of hour two talking about their match, even if it's not a full 15 minute segment.
The other lesson is I wouldn't have two long talking segments one after another like that, especially when the second very long segment features someone like Daniels, who just hasn't had any type of character development. He's just the bald guy with eye liner who pesters Styles about something or other who wasn't good enough to keep his job in TNA and now seems whiny and self-loathing. That's not a huge hook to keep viewers tuned in for ten minutes. There was nothing between the long Hogan-Sting-Flair segment the long Styles-Daniels segment to tell viewers be sure to stay tuned for the main event with a compelling reason they needed to stick it out through Daniels trying to cry.
Also, in the big picture, as long as TNA puts the majority of the TV juice behind pushing wrestlers who don't actually wrestle regularly on TV (Hogan, Flair, and to a certain extent Sting), they're going to have trouble convincing viewers to make the main event must-see TV. That TV time that popped a nice quarter hour did nothing for anything else on that show. If the wrestlers being pushed can't still "go" in the ring, it's time to evaluate whether the focus should be shifted elsewhere for those key segments, such as the start of hour two.
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