Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Hamilton Ave Journal 11.26.09: Volume 2 – Issue 113



THE HAMILTON AVE JOURNAL
By JP Prag

Volume 2 – Issue 113


ABOUT THE JOURNAL

The Hamilton Ave Journal is the only wrestling news report focused solely on the business of wrestling. Here in the Journal we not only look at the stories that are important to the investor and business-minded person, but also delve deeper into stories that most fans of wrestling would overlook. That is because the Journal is about getting the heart of the matters that affect the companies and outlooks of the wrestling world.

And where is Hamilton Ave? That is the location of the WWE Production Studio in Stamford, CT, and thus the most powerful place in the wrestling world. Besides, The East Main Street Journal just does not have the right ring to it.

Who am I? I am JP Prag: consultant, entrepreneur, businessman, journalist, and wrestling fan.

Now, ring the bell because the market is open.


The Hamilton Ave Journal

WHAT'S NEWS

The Journal's front page area known as What's News isn't just about telling you what has happened. The stories in this section are about what will have an effect on the wrestling industry, individual federations, and the wallets of the fans.

LEAD STORY: WWE Women Most Powerful in Cable

For the past two years, the Journal has covered in the detail the slowly changing upper echelon of the WWE. Although wrestling is considered to be traditionally a male dominated form of entertainment, it is women who have taken a considerable role of power in the past decade. While Dixie Carter as President of TNA is a major kudos in women's place in the wrestling pantheon, it is the WWE that has shown that they are more open to a woman's perspective at the top of their organization.

Until a few months ago, the WWE was helmed by Linda McMahon. While Linda's place as CEO always put her second fiddle to Chairman of the Board Vince McMahon, the high level executive positions within the company began to shift over to women with a lot of experience in the media and sports industries. How this has changed how the WWE presents itself, the audience they garner, and overall impact on the company is a topic for a much larger debate, but the sheer knowledge that these women have such influential roles speaks volumes to the read of the media world.

And that is exactly what CableFAX has recently released in their November 2009 magazine. While women from MTV, TBS, Cox, FOX, CNN, HBO, and many others were honored, it was the WWE that had three women named on the list of "Most Powerful Women in Cable". While none ranked in the officially number of the top 50, readers of the Journal should not be surprised at the list.

First up is Executive Vice President of Marketing Michelle Wilson. While Ms. Wilson is relatively new to the job, the magazine credits her with the success of WrestleMania 26 as well as marketing deals with 7-11 and PepsiCo.

Up next is the often Journal covered subject of Chief Operating Office Dona Goldsmith. Mr. Goldsmith was also named "the second-most influential women in sports by Forbes" according to the article. While Ms. Goldsmith's views of the industry she works in may be questionable, she is correct in giving her results:

"… our operating profit is up approximately 15% vs. the prior year."

When you have numbers like that, it is hard to argue.

Lastly is the truly expected Executive Vice President of Creative Development and Operations Stephanie McMahon. Interestingly enough, the article does not go into any details on Ms. McMahon's role as a writer for the programs, but instead concentrated on her role of booking guest hosts for RAW and got getting WWE talent on other shows.

While these women's positions on the list are nothing to sneeze at, it is number two on the list that is most important to the WWE's future. President of NBC Universal and formerly of subsidiary USA Networks, Bonnie Hammer

has more to do with how the WWE is presented and where they are today than most people who actually work for the company. And here, too, the article gives a shout out to the WWE, solidifying the WWE with the top women in cable.


Newsbites

Some items of note in the rest of the wrestling business world:

  • New WWE ring announcer Lauren Mayhew has parted ways with the WWE. Reportedly, even as recently as Monday night / Tuesday morning her representative was sending out threatening letters to anyone who he considered to be posting slanderous material of her. Any alleged slanderous material was removed, though there is no word if this type of behavior had anything to do with her and the WWE parting ways.

  • In a follow-up to last week's news item, soon to be former WWE Executive Vice President of Global Media Shane McMahon did in fact meet with UFC President Dana White. Mr. White made the confirmation at a Q&A session in Las Vegas before UFC 106.

  • WWE has apparently signed a new deal with Sky Sports in the UK. The new deal includes airing WWE SuperStars beginning December 11, 2009 and This Week in WWE which will begin airing January 3, 2010. The other WWE programs remain in their normal spots. All together, it looks like a significant rights fee increase for the WWE.

  • There is some confusion whether Pro Wrestling UNSCRIPTED (PWU) has a deal to air their show on VERSUS beginning in January 2010. It now appears that a third party company (BMG Marketing) is actually buying two hour infomercial time on the network on a monthly basis for PWU to air their shows on. The other issue is that the venue PWU has claimed to book does not have a date set for their tapings. The venue—the Philadelphia Convention Center—says that PWU staff did take a tour of the facility but that no contracts were signed.


    MARKETPLACE

    In the Marketplace we look at the trends in television ratings. This section is less for critical analysis by the Journal but more for the reader to see what is really going on and to draw their own conclusions.

    As with stocks, here in the Journal we track the progress of television ratings. If ratings are the barometer by which we judge the product, then over the course of 52 weeks we should be able to see patterns, trends, and anomalies.

    For the week ending November 25, 2009, here are the current standings of our shows:


    Ratings


    RAW
    Close (This Week's Rating): 3.3
    Open (Last Week's Rating): 3.5
    Percentage Change: ▼ 5.7%
    52-Week High: 4.5
    52-Week Low: 3.0
    All Time High: 8.1
    All Time Low: 1.8

    SmackDown*
    Close (This Week's Rating): UNAV
    Open (Last Week's Rating): UNAV
    Percentage Change: N/A
    52-Week High: 2.3
    52-Week Low: 1.6
    All Time High: 5.8
    All Time Low: 1.0

    * SmackDown! ratings may include fast overnight if final ratings are not posted. Also, SmackDown! ratings are for the prior week as overnights are not available before this article goes to print.

    ECW
    Close (This Week's Rating): UNAV
    Open (Last Week's Rating): 1.1
    Percentage Change: N/A
    52-Week High: 1.4
    52-Week Low: 0.7
    All Time High: 2.3
    All Time Low: 0.6

    TNA iMPACT**
    Close (This Week's Rating): 1.1
    Open (Last Week's Rating): 1.1
    Percentage Change: UNCH
    52-Week High: 1.3
    52-Week Low: 0.9
    All Time High: 1.3
    All Time Low: 0.6

    ** TNA iMPACT's are for the prior week as ratings may not be available at the time of the Journal's posting

    SuperStars***
    Close (This Week's Rating): 1.0
    Open (Last Week's Rating): 0.9
    Percentage Change: ▲ 11.1%
    52-Week High: 1.0
    52-Week Low: 0.7
    All Time High: 1.0
    All Time Low: 0.7

    *** SuperStars ratings may include fast overnight if final ratings are not posted. Also, SuperStars ratings are for the prior week as overnights are not available before this article goes to print.

    Analysis:

    With SmackDown and ECW delayed this week due to issue Nielsen was having last week coupled with the holiday, the most interesting rating result of the week belongs to SuperStars. The show did a 1.0 rating, the highest rating since August 20, 2009 and a tie for their all-time highest rating. RAW and ECW may be slipping in the ratings, but SuperStars has slowly edged up their average since a September low of 0.7.

    RAW itself was down this week, mostly due to the poorer performing first hour. Without the first hour, the show would have had a 3.5 rating. The last three hour RAW was on June 15, 2009 when the show did a 3.6 for the entire run and a 3.9 during the regular two hours. The one before it on June 13, 2009 had a 3.7 for the entire show. With a plethora of three hour RAWs heading in to the end of the year, it looks like the WWE could end up back in 2008's numbers of a 3.0, such as December 8, 2008.


    MONEY AND INVESTING

    We all know that wrestling is a business, but we don't often pay attention to what sells and makes money. Money and Investing looks into the top selling items in the world of wrestling and any interesting figures that may have come out this week.

    What are the top selling items for the WWE? WWEShopZone.com releases a list of varying numbers to show what is selling for them:

    1. John Cena Never Give Up T-Shirt ($25.00)
    2. John Cena Never Give Up YOUTH T-Shirt ($22.00)
    3. John Cena Never Give Up Sweatband Set ($12.00)
    4. John Cena Never Give Up Baseball Cap ($20.00)
    5. John Cena Holiday 2009 Youth T-Shirt Package ($26.99)
    6. John Cena Attitude Adjustment Sweatband Set ($12.00)
    7. WWE Steel Cage Ring ($49.99, on sale $29.99, on double sale $22.98)
    8. John Cena Ruthless Aggression #38 Action Figure ($8.99)
    9. Hardys Purple Logo Pendant ($10.00)
    10. D Generation X Basics YOUTH T-Shirt ($9.99)
    11. Rey Mysterio PPV #20 Action Figure ($19.99, on sale $14.99)
    12. Triple H & Shawn Michaels Adrenaline Series 24 ($29.99, on sale $19.99)
    13. Are You Ready: The Unauthorized History of D Generation X Paperback Book ($16, on sale $5.99)
    14. DX Holiday 2009 T-Shirt Package ($55, on sale $29.99)
    15. Superstars Collectible Cup ($1.99)
    16. John Cena Light up Pen ($8, on sale $2.98)
    17. John Cena Holiday 2009 T-Shirt Package ($29.99)
    18. Gift Wrap Pack ($6, on sale $3.99)
    19. WWE Red Gift Bag ($3.00)
    20. DX Holiday 2009 Youth T-Shirt Package ($52, on sale $26.99)


    Those who wonder why John Cena is prominently featured on WWE programming need look nowhere else but this list. By just introducing a new line, Mr. Cena took over the top six spots—which also include sales of his older items. What some people do not realize is that by introducing a new item it can initially boost sales of an older item because people are likely to buy similar products. Over time, the new product will cannibalize the older one, but initially there is a boost. John Cena "John Deer" style merchandise was reaching a saturation point anyway, so a fresh design definitely got the wallets open. This trickle down affect even helped sell a light up pen from two design styles ago. All together, Mr. Cena dominated the list with 9 out of 20 possible slots.


    TNA sometimes releases a list of top selling items on ShopTNA.com. According to the site the top selling items were:

    1. Don's Insane Brown Bag Special ($19.99, on sale $18)
    2. Don West's Vintage Celebration ($59.97, on sale $10.99)
    3. Beer Money (Take A Fall) ($0.99, on sale $0.89)
    4. Sting Plastic Mask ($4.99, on sale $3.99)
    5. Complete 2008 PPV DVD Set & Autographed Sting Card ($240, on sale $71.99)
    6. Sting "Discharge" T-shirt ($19.99, on sale $14.99)
    7. Beer Money - Daily Buzz Shirt ($19.99, on sale $14.99)
    8. TNA Logo T-Shirt Special ($24.99, on sale $22.49 to $24.99)
    9. TAZ Beat-down Hoodie ($39.99, on sale $29.99)
    10. No Surrender – 2009 DVD ($19.99, on sale $14.99)


    TNA is too busy dressing somebody up as a turkey this year to update their list.


    PERSONAL JOURNAL

    Wrestling isn't just about watching and reading. The best way to be a wrestling fan is to experience it live. Where is wrestling coming to in the next 2 weeks? The Personal Journal answers that question.


    SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursday FridaySaturday
    29 (Nov)
  • RAW Live (Charlottesville, VA)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Hampton, VA)
  • 30
  • RAW (Baltimore, MD)
  • 1 (Dec)234
  • WWE SuperShow (Texarkana, AR)
  • 5
  • WWE SuperShow (Bossier City, LA)
  • 6
  • WWE SuperShow (Monroe, LA)
  • TNA Live (Glenn Falls, NY)
  • 7
  • RAW (Dallas, TX)
  • SmackDown / ECW Live (Beaumont, TX)
  • TNA iMPACT (Orlando, FL)
  • 8
  • SmackDown / ECW (Houston, TX)
  • TNA iMPACT (Orlando, FL)
  • 9101112



    Do you know a wrestling event coming up? Send one in to The Hamilton Ave Journal and we'll be sure to add it to the list.


    EDITORIALS

    The Editorials section is designed for you, the readers, to respond to the views presented in the Journal, send an important news item, or talk about another overlooked business related item in wrestling. Just beware: the Journal reserves the right to respond back.

    From the commentary section last week, Watch wanted to talk a bit about the ratings of the lesser shows:

    ECW and TNA's TV ratings are nothing to go nuts about. Until a major change is made, they will move up and down a little, but in my eyes, those shows have the same audience.

    Well, they have moved around quite a bit if you look over longer periods of time then a week. ECW started out in the 2.0 range and worked its way down while iMPACT started out in the 0.7 range and worked its way up. Those percentage gains are quire significant in both directions, even though they go through long periods of stagnation.

    As for the audience, Nielsen will tell you that the audience itself is actually quite different, just like there is a different audience that watches RAW compared to SmackDown. Not saying there is not overlap, because there is, but overall it is a different set of people that watch each show.

    Alcoholic wants to continue the ratings rant:

    So... lemme get this straight. ECW went from a 2.8 rating to a 1.0 by changing the TV14 format to a PG show?? I thought INCREASING ratings was the goal.

    Maybe I have it all wrong.


    Well, ECW was never that high, so don't exaggerate the point you are trying to make. That said, the move to a PG show is a long-term shift in the WWE's demographic. By making the move, they have shed a lot of their existing audience. They are now at a point where they are building up the new audience that they hope will be with them for the next 10-15 years. Basically, they are trying to create a new audience, and that takes time. Instant ratings are not something that being TV-PG will create, nor will they destroy. The WWE's audience did not suddenly drop by a million people the day after the change. It has taken time to shed customers (although they were already on that path) just as it will take time to build new ones up.

    When it comes to the ratings, a show's placement and length can have a big effect, as Bonnie Hunter thinks we might see:

    I think RAW will be moved to a 7pm start time and run for 3 hours weekly by mid-next year. Vince will eventually give into demands by USA execs.

    With their new contract, he does not have to do any such thing. However, the three hour RAW has been a request from USA for quite some time. With the potential buyout of NBC-Universal by Comcast, the WWE may feel pressure to modify the show to meet the format they want.

    Sticking to when shows are shown, we jump across the pond to diz:

    Another tidbit on TNA in the UK: Friday's Virgin 1 showing of Impact was eight days behind, rather than from the night before. Bravo still seems to be showing up-to-date Impacts (according to friends,) so I'm not sure if it's just a cock-up on the Branson front or something deliberate. Hoping for the former though

    Hard to say, but given that Bravo has first rights it is most likely the latter. Given that, it could still change over time. When TNA first went to India their shows were nearly a month behind. At this point, the shows are only a few days behind, so there could be a similar update in the future.

    Not leaving TNA behind, Loki asks:

    When Hogan jumped to WCW, followed by Savage et al, it was WCW stealing WWFs biggest names, which slingshotted them to the top.

    Question: Do you think the same would happen if TNA poached WWEs bigget start. i.e do you think TNA would get a significant increase in viewership if John Cena, Randy Orton Triple H jumped to Orlando. Or do people only cheer them because of the show they are on?

    It would never happen of course, but it's an interesting hypothetical.


    First, neverAcquiesce gives you his thoughts:

    The hurdle TNA needs to overcome is awarness. The John Cena fans at WWE shows either don't know or care about TNA. If Cena disappeared from their screens they wouldn't necessarily migrate to Thursday nights. WCW had it easier in that they were a known commodity and had a built-in audience equal to and sometimes greater than that of the WWF. The hierarchy of WWE, TNA, ROH is not nearly the same as WWF, WCW, ECW was.

    Very true, and that is TNA's biggest issue. People are looking at the Hogan signing as how he will play with other wrestlers. That is not what Hogan's role is; he is there to bring awareness to TNA. Is he doing that job yet? Somewhat, but it will really come when he gets back to the United States and officially joins the promotion.

    Now, on to the earlier comment about WCW suddenly getting "sligshotted" to the top. Just having the big names did not do that for WCW at all. PPV buyrates went up slightly, but attendance remained about the same. It was launching Nitro that suddenly gave them a platform, but that was a year after many of those guys came over. Even then, Nitro and RAW traded victories each and every week.

    At the end of the day, it was in 1996 with the formation of the nWo that the tide truly turned. WCW had a program that captured the imagination of not only wrestling fans, but casual fans as well. That is when they came to dominance, not instantly. So in reality, there was a two year period where things were relatively the status quo.

    This is the lesson that TNA will need to learn. It is not just a talent that is going to bring in people, but having a program that people want to watch. Hopefully if Hogan brings awareness, they can bring the program. Brett sums up this point:

    On the topic of TNA signing WWE's big names like Cena or Orton, It's not really about the names they sign, sure it helps, but what is going to keep people and attract more people to TNA is to have a consistent and solid product plus strong marketing. Add those two ingredients together and over time TNA will develop if not a large audience, at least a strong audience (which, actually they must have a pretty strong base because when is the last time they had the rating dip below 0.9?)

    And finally finishing the week with Hogan and TNA is The IWC:

    To give a different response to Guest#8757 from last week to this question:

    "Why the hell aren't they selling Hogan gear yet? Are they allergic to money or something? Hogan's merch will sell like crazy before dying out after the nostalgia wears down."

    I would say that Hogan still has a deal with WWE merchandising since they are still selling Hogan merchandise. I don't know if Hogan owns his WWE related trademarks like Hulkamania or what TNA can do in this situation.


    Hulk Hogan owns all trademarks related to his name and image and was leasing them to the WWE. As a matter of fact, Hogan was working with the WWE on a new contract to allow them to do more merchandising with him (a la a Legends contract) when he struck a deal with TNA. You can imagine the WWE wanted to see a few more t-shirts with Hogan's latest DVD, but that is not to be for now.


    Plenty more was written, so be sure to take a look. And if you enjoy the Journal, why not bookmark 411mania.com and make it your home page? You can do that by clicking here.


    CLOSING BELL

    This concludes Issue #113 (Volume 2) of THE HAMILTON AVE JOURNAL. Join us next week as we get ready to ring the bell again.

    Till then!
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