Less is More:
The Over Saturation of the WWE Product
It is of no doubt that wrestling has been in decline since the days of the Attitude Era. Interest and ratings have ebbed and flowed while over time the popularity of sports entertainment has evened out with less than remarkable numbers.It doesn't take one long to come up with a laundry list of why. Some blame the PG era, others complain they are sick of seeing the same stars again and again. While others just grow out of it. All points are valid and correct. Perhaps the biggest problem of the current product is oversaturation.
on July 23rd of last year WWE's Monday Night Raw would forever become a 3-hour show. Which to the hardcore fans sounded like a great idea. What's not to love about more wrestling? WCW's Monday Nitro was quite successful for a while. The E could garner more revenue from advertisers and network fees. Someone at WWE apparently decided 'the more we're on TV the more we'll make'. Soon after (or around the same time) Wensday night Main Event would debut as well as a Saturday morning show for the kids. In a short time WWE added about 2 and hours of wrestling a week. That is more than Raw or Smackdown were to begin with. And therein lies the problem. It's simply too much.
The workload on a week to week basis almost doubled. The writers and producers now had to find a way to fill the extra time. Fans of pure wrestling were hope talent woould have more time in the ring to showcase themselves. Fans hoped more time could be devoted to creating deeper angles and storylines. Some watched waiting to see a more developed mid-card and tag division. Instead, we just got more of the same.
Ratings for WWE's flagship show Raw could be much better. But with so much wrestling on our plates each week we have very little incentive to turn in. There really isn't any reason to watch a 3-hour Raw in its entirety. I know I can miss the first hour because Michael Cole and The King will recap it for me seven times while force feeding me the WWE app for the ninth when I do decide to tune in. Why should I watch if I know there is no chance that I will miss anything important? In fact, why stretch the limits of my attention span when it's going to be recapped on Main Event and again on Smackdown? People don't miss a minute of their favorite shows because they don't want to miss a thing. There is no constant recap for The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad. It's also why most networks don't re-air new episodes. It's to get to watch right then and there driving ratings for some shows to about 20 million. If these shows were re-aired you can guarantee ratings would even out. The network would lose out on prime advertising fees and the ability to set viewship records.
Another problem with the constant recapping of events is that it begins to bore the viewer. How many times do we need to be reminded that Daniel Bryan put HBK in the yes-lock? Anyone who saw it didn't forget. They are making it ok for the viewer to stray, to turn the channel for a while or not even tune in at all. This is supposed to be the show everyone watches, the show where fueds start, storylines advance, and see a good match. Instead its a streched out 2-hour Raw that's filled with padding to make it feel like 3-hours. It can really be quite boring to some. There is no reason to watch the whole thing.
The secondary show Smackdown only seems to be there to remind you of whats going on. Nothing new rarely happens on Smackdown. Storylines don't really advance too much and new fueds are born here(there are some exceptions).When it first debuted it was a much watch show because anything could happen and did. Now it serves to entertain a taped audience with current fueds. A good portion of the show is dedicated to telling you what happened on Raw. If you've seen Raw this week, well you can skip this. If you missed Raw, now you can catch up. With so many hours of to fill they choose to pad it with recaps instead of building talents, storylines, and quality matches that last longer than 4-5 minutes. The WWE isn't giving the fans a reason to want to watch either show. Neither show feels like must-see television.
Too much of a good thing is ultimately a bad thing. I think the WWE has reached that point. If I eat pizza everyday I will eventually get sick of it. It feels as though the WWE has spread itself thin. A lot of work goes into making these shows. With constant touring and sudden injuries, writing a decent script was hard enough. In order to fill the new hours and PPV hours writers are watering down the script and losing the ability to capture fans attention. Fans grow tired of watching the same story, the same match, the same promo, the same stars PPV to PPV. It all feels recycled. Maybe the problem is just that it's on TV too much. With less air time more time could be devoted in quality not quantity. Sometimes less is more.