Surprised to see me back?
Well, come on! The Lakers are up 2-0 on the Kings! How could I resist the temptation to rub it in CRZ's face?
Speaking of sports seen on NBC...or not anymore, I guess...we now know that the plug has been pulled on the XFL, and I just wanted to step in and say a few things about it. Hence, the return of the most electrifying column in sports entertainment today, the Device, and with it, me, the World's Most Dangerous Columnist, Dartmouth Dan Doomsday.
So....yeah, the XFL. There are a few things that people seem to be missing when they cover the XFL's demise, and I wanted to address a few of them as only I can. Hence, this return edition of the Device, entitled...
It would seem that the old saying is true. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And it would appear that the fine folks at NBC don't read their history books. Because NBC has made mistakes like this before, and there was no arrogant wrestling promoter involved.
Yes, Vince McMahon is arrogant, and it's gotten him into trouble before. But much as in the 1960's, NBC's latest ratings disappointments have nothing to do with wrestling promoters.
In 1960's, NBC garnered a good deal of attention with a little show you may have heard of, a show called Star Trek. In the wake of the Kennedy assassination, and in the midst of both the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement, Gene Roddenbury's optimistic view of the future, presented through the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, was a hit, especially with many young people, like my parents, who were in their teens when Star Trek debuted in 1966.
To be honest, I don't remember what kind of ratings Star Trek did, but I remember them being quite respectable. So, when NBC talked about cancelling the show after the 1967-68 season, there was a large grassroots movement to save the show. Recognizing the devoted fan support Roddenbury's product had, NBC kept the show on through the 1969 season.
Happy ending? Not quite. You see, there was this one, teeny-tiny little problem: NBC moved Star Trek to Friday nights.
Of course, a lot of people, including my parents, liked Star Trek, but not enough to stay in on Friday nights. Toss in some REALLY subpar writing ("Spock's Brain," anyone? How about "The Way to Eden?") and you can see where this is going. In 1969, Star Trek was history.
Fast forward 30 years or so...
NBC hasn't done much business with Vince McMahon since the last episode of Saturday Night's Main Event aired in 1991. However, NBC recognizes that McMahon's product has VERY devoted fan support, especially among the male 18-24 demographic group, so they agree to give McMahon's new football league the Saturday night timeslot.
Nobody listened to history, so of course, history repeated itself.
I am a member of said male 18-24 demographic group. I like wrestling. Some might even call me an addict, and I'd be hard pressed to argue. I also like football (which made Dartmouth's 2-8 season quite painful, thank you very much). So where was I during the XFL games? Out, much like most other members of the male 18-24 demographic.
Of course, a lot of people, including myself, like McMahon's product, but not enough to stay in on Saturday nights. Toss in some REALLY subpar football (especially where my NY/NJ Hitmen were concerned), and you can see where this is going. As of yesterday, the XFL is history.
If NBC was stupid enough not to see this coming, then they deserved to have their ratings tank.
So where does this leave Vince McMahon? What part does he have in the XFL's failure. Well, I don't blame him at all. The WWF is still riding high, but it may not be five years from now. I think we've seen by now that the wrestling business is cyclical in nature. If I were the chairman of a billion dollar publicly-owned company, I'd want to have a more steady source of revenue too. So the XFL was worth a shot.
Besides, does anyone remember the WBF? You want to see a dumb idea, look no further. I don't know if it's on Wrestlecrap but it should be. I mean, ok, the guys all have great physiques, but it's just a contest to see whose is best. Am I really supposed to care just because these guys have different personalities? Of course not. But this was football, for the love of Mick! There's a winner, and there's a loser. There's a clear objective of the game. No judges saying which team plays better, you just prove it on the field. And the winners get more money than the losers. That's a concept I can buy into. Just not on Saturday nights. But hey, if you're Vince, and you can't depend on the wrestling boom forever, then you've gotta try SOMETHING. The XFL was that something, and if it had succeeded, it would have helped WWFE handle the end of the current wrestling boom that's much better.
The XFL was a good idea in theory. And if it were on on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, it just might have done better than it did. But NBC didn't need any help during the week, because that's the time for less risky programs like sitcoms and newsmagazines. But they needed help on Saturdays. Enter the XFL. There you have it, folks: A match made in ratings hell.
Questions? Comments? Loads of money you're dying to send me? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org . I'm Dartmouth Dan Doomsday, and this has been the Device. Goodnight, everybody!