WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon was asked about the recent decline in RAW and SmackDown ratings during Thursday's Q1 2020 investors call.
Vince talked about how the product is different while filming during the coronavirus pandemic, with no audience, and pointed to how there hasn't been much of a change with the blue brand. Regarding the red brand ratings, Vince talked about how they've brought up new talents, and how it takes time to get those talents over. An investor said it's surprising that the ratings "appeared soft" as of late with WWE being just about the only live sports content on TV due to COVID-19, and asked if Vince has any idea why this is.
"In terms of the why, it goes back to the product itself and we are the only, you're right, sports environment at the moment, but again - it's a different feel completely than in front of a live audience. We were the first 'sports' to have interaction with live audiences many, many years ago. It was 'yay, boo,' and that's the first interaction, and we don't have that now," Vince said. "But we're doing really well I think, beyond anyone's expectations actually by doing the show without an audience and everything we do is about the audience and how they react, and the way you read them, and the fun and what have you, that they all have by coming to a WWE event. So that's really, I think why, and we need to be able to figure out ways, which we are."
He continued and talked about the closed-set environment of the Performance Center, "But nonetheless there are advantages and we can go outside of the environment too, so we don't just stay there for two or three matches. You need some relief there in one form or another, and we're figuring that out as well. A lot of things to figure out in this sort of environment. What can you do and what resonates, and things of that nature. So it really... it's brand new for us for, and for anyone."
Vince continued with his answer and said RAW is suffering not necessarily because of the new environment, but because of the new talent and the process of getting them over. He also mentioned Brock Lesnar being away right now and said they do have a new WWE Champion, but he did not name Drew McIntyre. Vince also said he believes the RAW ratings will bounce back considerably.
"So there's no audience and it's a different show, a completely different show," Vince said. "And I think we're going to get there. While we may be able to take this negative and already turn it into somewhat of a positive, as far as ratings and what have you are concerned. SmackDown has virtually been no change, very little. RAW has suffered, but not necessarily because of the environment, it's suffered because we bring in a lot of new talent and to RAW, and it takes a while to get these new talents over.
"We no longer have Brock Lesnar obviously, but we have a new champion and a lot of new performers coming in. So it takes a while. So that's the reason, and how you use those performers in this story or that story or what have you. So, with new talent it's just going to take a little while. I'm convinced though, that the RAW's ratings are going to bounce back considerably."
You can click here for Vince's comments on being proud of the roster, and the major praise he gave the WWE talents this week.