Former WCW President Eric Bischoff spoke on the latest episode of 83 Weeks about the current drop in ratings across all wrestling promotions. RAW this past Monday night scored its lowest audience in history (partly because Monday was a holiday), while SmackDown scored their second lowest audience last week on FOX heading into the 4th of July weekend. AEW Dynamite garnered their second lowest audience on Wednesdays since NXT moved nights, while last week’s Impact Wrestling only averaged 69,000 viewers, partially due to a programming glitch
Bischoff spoke about the reason for the viewership loss, saying he believes that the main reason is that it’s summer time and nobody wants to stay inside and watch wrestling after being stuck inside during the COVID-19 pandemic. The WWE Hall of Famer also took a shot at IMPACT Wrestling’s record low audience last week.
“I think SmackDown probably lost 100,000 viewers to [NBA] of their regular audience,” Bischoff said. “We’ve talked about this on this podcast, I’ve predicted this, I’ve predicted every dirt sheet writer, every headline on the internet is going to say ‘Ratings are plummeting,’ it’s summer time! It happens every f—ing year. It’s as predictable as the sun coming up and the moon coming up, the ratings always go down in a consistent percentage in April when daylight savings time kicks in, weather gets nice and people go yeah, I don’t think I’m going to sit in my house and watch T.V. anymore because I’ve been COVID contained. I’m going to go to my local tavern and not watch wrestling, or if I’m going to watch wrestling, I’m going to watch it at the bar which by the way, doesn’t have a Nielsen [ratings] box.
“I think people are making way too much over everybody’s low ratings. Whether it’s AEW, WWE, f—ing IMPACT, what did they show up with last week? 69,000 viewers? I could cut a video of me flipping a burger on my rec tec [grill] and do better than 69,000 people watching it, but guess what, it’s summer time. Everybody is out, that’s what happens, it will come back.”
With Bischoff stating that ratings are down during the summer, co-host Conrad Thompson asked if it would be a good time for a wrestling offseason. Bischoff explained why he felt that it wouldn’t work and doesn’t believe in any way that it will help ratings. He also mentioned that removing the formula that’s worked for wrestling since the beginning would be a bad idea.
“I wouldn’t vote for an offseason, one of the reasons wrestling works as consistently as it has since the beginning of television time is because it’s 52 weeks a year and it tours,” Bischoff said. “If you take 52 weeks out of the equation and now take touring out of the equation? You’re going to lose 60% of your audience over the course of five or six years. You lose your connection to the audience.
“Here’s a mistake that a lot of television executives make, they don’t understand the audience. The wrestling audience has become so familiar with these characters, they identify with them and live vicariously through them, they’re kind of in their own, entertainment way, addicted to them. If you take them off the air three or four or five months, they find other sh-t to do and other things to be interested in. The secret sauce to professional wrestling is that it’s 52 weeks a year, if you go down to 26 and you have to start your season over again and you’ve lost that daily and weekly connection to your audience, six months later you’re going to come back with a new season? Good friggin’ luck.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.