Dixie Carter recently spoke with Channel Guide Magazine. Here are some highlights from the interview:
What is a demographic or type of audience that you’d like to most immediately grow? How do you, as a television program, try to appeal to them to convert them into Impact Wrestling viewers?
Well, I think in the past it’s really a network-mandated situation: What audience does the network want you to go after? In the beginning, it was a very solid male 18 to 49 audience, and we have had outstanding ratings in that category for nine years on Spike TV. We’ve continued to grow them but the network is changing a little bit to target more female viewers … a new direction for them.
So, we’re shifting our focus a little bit. Our storylines are becoming a little bit broader, appealing to more of a female demographic and a family demographic than they may have before. We just started that probably three, four months ago and the numbers are already rising. I think our storylines are trying to appeal to that new group and I’m really excited that it’s working.
On that topic, let’s talk about Impact Wrestling’s roster of female wrestlers — another area that consistently draws great ratings during your broadcasts — the “Knockouts.” What’s unique about your interpretation of women’s wrestling compared to other wrestling shows?
I think the fact that I’m a female head of a wrestling company gives me an extraordinary obligation to the women’s division. In the beginning, it was something I was hesitant about. My only introduction to women wrestling was something that I wouldn’t want to be a part of. I’m not saying we’ve done it right the entire time, but we have treated them with such tremendous respect.
They’re a very, very important part of this company. I think they’re superior athletes just like the guys are. What we’ve done is try to let their athleticism shine. Instead of putting them out there for two minutes in a ridiculous match as eye candy, we have given them main events, putting them in a prominent place on the show, giving them a lot of time on the show, building their characters, and letting them be shown as the amazing, strong women that they are. I think that’s the difference.
Over the last several months, you’ve become a part of the TV program itself after many years of staying behind the scenes. Was there hesitance from you to do that?
From the beginning, I think people just assumed I would step in and become a character, and I did resist it for a long period of time. This year they came to me and said, “We feel if we could tie some of our younger, newer talent to you [on the show] that it would really, really help them.” It was something that I didn’t jump at. I really was a little concerned about being able to pull it off, honestly. I’m becoming more and more comfortable with it as time goes by.
Looking ahead 10 years from now, how do you think professional wrestling television will change and evolve?
I think it will become more reality. People want to see behind the curtains; people want to know about these guys in real life. I think you’re going to see what traditional wrestling has been morphed into … something that is a blend between real life and fantasy. Even recently, we’ve been playing out real-life storylines in front of the camera — real-life contract disputes, real-life issues with talent. I think you’ll continue to see more of that. That’s what people want.