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Brian Popkin




Is there a post-PPV Spike?

The long held conventional wisdom is that there is a ratings spike the week after a Wrestling PPV. The reason is fans that didn't order the PPV would eagerly tune in for the results and to find out if there is a new champion. And casual fans will also tune in to see the new storylines that will be introduced. Not one to assume anything, I will analyze the post-PPV TV ratings for 2001 to see if this PPV Spike Theory holds true.

First lets look at the WCW Post-PPV Nitros to see if any ratings spike exists. They had 3 PPVs in 2001. Here is the change in ratings for those weeks following the PPVs.

1/15/2001  -0.5
2/19/2001  -0.6
3/19/2001   0.0  

So the ratings spike is -.37. Hmm...this was not expected. So, maybe the ratings spike is a myth. Or maybe my sample size of 3 is too small. OK, we'll also look at the 11 WCW PPVs in 2000. (The 12/18 Nitro following the PPV was pre-empted and shown on 12/19, so I won't count it.) The ratings changes are -.4, -.8, -.1, -.6, .3, .4, .3, -.1, -.4, .3, and .1.

The average spike for WCW 2000 is -.09. No effect. It can also be said that WCW PPV buy rate for 2000 was a crappy .17. Even ECW PPVs did better than that. Since so few people bought the PPV, we can't expect a ratings spike.

Well, lets look at the WWF instead. Here are the results in the ratings of the Raw following each PPV compared with the prior week for 2001:

Rumble           0.26
No Way Out       0.21
Wrestlemania 17  1.01
Backlash        -0.18
Judgement Day   -0.30
King of the Ring 0.44
Invasion         0.22
Summerslam       0.00
Unforgiven      -0.33
No Mercy         0.19
Survivor Series  0.69
Vengeance        0.48

So the average PPV spike exists but is only .19 ratings points. But, if you look closer, you see the traditional big 5 PPVs had a big spike of 0.48. While the "off-season" PPVs had a negative spike of -0.01.

So, the real conclusion is that a ratings spike is non-existent for all but the big 5 PPVs. And the spike for the Big 5 PPVs is roughly 500,000 households, a very sizable number. This is roughly a 10% ratings increase for Raw.

The reason I give for this is fans on a limited budget only buy the big 5 PPVs, not all 12. If these fans really liked the PPV this recharges their interest in the WWF and they watch the next week. And some fans only start watching again after a big PPV, like Wrestlemania, when mainstream media coverage reminds them of their interest.

Also, interesting here is that Invasion was one of the biggest selling PPVs of the year.

It was so big that it spiked the ratings not only of Raw by .22, but also of that week's Smackdown by .58 as the angle was gaining momentum.The Vengeance PPV did increase the Raw rating by .48 as everyone tuned in to see who the first Undisputed Champion was, but the ratings for Thursday's Smackdown decreased by -.6 after people found out it was Jericho and turned off their TV sets.

For those curious, the three weeks of the year with the best ratings were: 4/2/01 = 5.72 (week after WM17), 1/22/01 = 5.5 (week after Rumble), 7/30/01 = 5.68 (2 weeks after Invasion, very hot angle).

The three worst ratings weeks were 12/31/01 = 2.4 (Raw Highlight Show, top 10 matches for 2001 shown on New Year's Eve. Nobody watched it. Thanks for going out drinking guys.), 12/24/01 = 3.2 (Jericho Title Run - Poorly Booked), 6/11/01 = 4.10 (Pre-KotR, Benoit and Jericho finally get their push, too little too late).

In conclusion, the ratings spike can only be counted the week after a Big 5 PPV or a monster PPV that sells like a big 5. In other words, if you see a ratings spike for the Raw after Vengeance, the ratings didn't go up because of the PPV, they went up because of Bishoff.

Brian Popkin

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