WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon commented on the drop in WWE TV ratings and what he thinks they need to do to turn the ratings back around during WWE’s Second Quarter 2020 earnings call with investors from this evening. Curry Baker of Guggenheim Securities opened the investors Q&A portion of the call by asking Vince about the recent drop in ratings. Baker acknowledged that COVID-19 has impacted WWE production and the product itself, and asked Vince how concerned he is with the ratings issue, and what insight WWE officials have in regards to what is the cause of the decline. He also asked what strategy WWE has to turn the ratings around in the near-term, given coronavirus restraints, and the long-term.
As he has in the past, Vince reiterated how important the audience member is to the WWE product.
“As far as ratings are concerned, again, more than any other sport, surely our audience is a part of the program,” Vince said. “It’s audience interaction that always is a plus. Again it goes all the way back to the origination of this genre, in terms of ‘yay and boo.’ So, the audience is integral to our success and our television ratings. Again, because of the interaction, or lack thereof.”
Vince continued and said some of what the company can do to help turn the ratings back around include creating more compelling characters, coming up with better storylines, and creating content that might be out of the ring, which focuses on Superstars and their stories.
“Not withstanding that, I think that we can have more compelling characters, better storylines, new characters coming to where we are right now, and more content that’s not necessarily in the ring, but one that focuses on our personalities and their story outside of the ring,” Vince said.
Vince also commented on AEW vs. WWE NXT, Paul Heyman being dismissed from his creative job, and Triple H working creative during the call. Vince took the loaded call from Brandon Ross of Lightshed Partners. Ross asked Vince why he thinks WWE NXT and AEW Dynamite have bounced back from the initial COVID-19 shock better than RAW and SmackDown have, if Triple H could help in an elevated creative role on RAW and SmackDown given his NXT success, why why he fired Paul Heyman from the RAW Executive Director job and if firing Heyman means that Vince has abandoned the strategy he spoke about during the Q1 call in January, where he indicated that they had to be patient with the plan to get over new talents on the main roster.
“That was a lot,” Vince first responded to the question. He took the NXT – AEW question and said they are looking to make RAW and SmackDown have a more youthful feel. “I think some of those are new. It’s something that’s new, and what have you, and it’s up to us to make RAW and SmackDown feel more youthful. That is where we’re going.”
Vince then commented on the strategy that he firs talked about during the Q1 call in April, where he said they are working on building new main roster Superstars, and that it will take some time to get them over. He did not directly answer if Heyman’s creative dismissal means a change in direction when it comes to getting over new stars.
“As far as continuing on, acting on what’s new and building and characters, you always have to build new characters. Constantly,” Vince said.
Regarding Triple H possibly taking on an “elevated role” with the RAW and SmackDown creative teams, based off his success on the NXT brand, Vince noted that he already helps out.
“As far as Paul Levesque helping out on RAW and SmackDown, that happens,” Vince said. “It’s ‘all hands on deck’ in terms of all that we do.”
Finally, Vince commented on Heyman’s work in creative. While he will remain with the company as an on-air talent, Heyman was released from his role as RAW Executive Director on June 11 of this year, one year after he was hired for the role. Vince briefly spoke on Heyman but said he did a good job.
“As far as Paul Heyman’s concerned, he did a very good job in terms of creativity,” Vince said.