Credit: Mike Johnson and Pwinsider.com
– TNA President Dixie Carter did a media conference call to discuss the live iMPACT broadcasts this summer:
*Currently, they have 12 weeks where they are live. They hope to expand that at least one week since that week comes in between PPVs, but they are excited with the opportunity and really excited to build on it.
*Carter loves the more reality-based elements they are implementing on the show, feeling it freshens up the product and the characters.
*Brooke Hogan will not be wrestling and is there to help get some attention on the product. Carter was surprised at how much Hogan knew about the business as she literally grew up around some of the biggest names in the industry.
*Carter is very proud of the ten year anniversary and noted that there are some who covered the company from the start who didn’t expect it to last ten months. She said it was hard and they’ve made mistakes but they are proud to be here.
*Carter doesn’t believe they need to do 12 PPVs a year and they are currently negotiating contracts on the PPV end.
*At one point last November, there was talk of taking Impact to three hours but she wanted quality over quantity.
*Carter said that wrestling matters to them and it’s not a dirty word. They are excited to show the real elements that go into the business for the fans.
*Carter said that the Monday night experiment showed the strength of the WWE’s business and what they have built over the last few decades. She respects that and wants to build something greater for TNA.
*There is a possibility of live “specials in 2013 on SpikeTV.
*In regard to content on the Impact broadcasts with the earlier timeslot, Carter said they take the racier elements seriously to present them in the right way. Carter said that too much blood, language and sexually offensive material means nothing. Everything has to have meaning. In their attempts to make it mean as much as possible, some of those elements will come out.
*In regard to fears of producing live TV, Carter said there will always be a mistake and that’s the reality of live TV. Live TV gives the audience a desire to need to watch the show live in the face of DVRs. It also prevents spoilers from getting out, which means viewers read it and create their opinion based on what the person wrote and also what’s going to be in what segment.
*The move to live TV is happening at “warp speed” as she didn’t know they would be live on 5/31 as of the last TV Tapings.
*Carter said they won’t stick to any one format and plan to mix it up week to week to get viewers to invest the complete two hours in the live broadcast.
*Dixie Carter will be at the Brooklyn, NY Basebrawl event and actually sent their head of live events a note yesterday that they needed to do a PPV in that stadium.
*Carter said the best thing that they do is provide a great live event experience to the fans.
*Carter was asked about new talents. She said that was one of the reasons they are pulling the curtain back for the Gutcheck and they’ve found a number of talents like Crimson, Rosita and Jesse Sorensen that way. The Alex Silva decision was legitimately reversed on the fly live and it’s an exciting new element on the show and to be put into the system.
*They don’t expect any major ratings changes at first. The new timeslot being live will help them get the audience to the new timeslot quicker and establish that. They want to use the interactive element on the show as they’ve never had that ability to do before on their TV series. Carter said that tomorrow is a big night but it will only get better in the weeks to come.
*They want to let the talents cut loose and not be restricted to shorter two and three minutes segments. Last week, fans got to see a taste of what Hulk Hogan does behind the scenes. Carter gets defensive at the criticism that Hogan takes time from the guys and is just there for the check when he’s working with talent and trying to make the show better. Carter said he works for her and she feels honored he is doing so much in those meetings and now everyone will get to see that for themselves on the TV series. Carter said it’s going to be a big part of the legacy Hogan leaves in the business for himself and others. She noted that the 15 segment that opened Impact last week was completely unscripted and that allowed them to show their characters on a different level.
*They have not had a conversation about what needs to be done to be financially successful going live every week. They want to have consistency and quality week to week. The criticism that they do too much is something she takes to heart. They have to slow down and now have a six month story arc and bible so they can unfold their stories over time. The timeslot change and the summer season means it will take time for the audience to find them but they will hit their mark over time.
*Carter said Alex Shelley is a great talent and the door is open for him to return.
*On Ric Flair: “I cannot comment at this time.”
*Tomorrow on TV, Dixie will introduce Brooke Hogan and will also have another announcement. She said they will have to tune in.
*Carter said they will be doing an Australia tour and it’s going to happen. If it was up to her, it would happen sooner than later and they are working and researching dates and venues.
*Carter said that their follow-ups weren’t always great in the past, noting the Samoa Joe kidnapping and the Jackie Gayda blackmail tapes. She noted that some would say it was just wrestling and it didn’t matter but they needed their attention to detail to be better. Carter said a big goal is to be consistent and have a long story arc and a story bible that will hold them accountable. She said if something has slipped through the cracks lately, it’s the exception and not the rule.
*Carter said they are going to present their product in a unique way and a unique journey. She said once they evolve into the next phase of what Impact is all about, they will face their next challenge. This is an evolution and they will evolve over time. Carter was excited to see where this was going to take them.
*The goal is to bring Impact to Australia, not Ring Ka King or something else. If someone within her own company beats her to the punch, she won’t be a happy camper.
*In regard to changes in direction, Carter was asked if anyone one person changed her mind. Carter said it’s more about how people follow and watch television anymore. They have great characters but needed to have a more unique presentation and let them cut loose. She hopes to attract new viewers and hopes that happens.
*Concussions were brought up. Carter said there’s been an effort and decision on the company’s part to get away from more dangerous aspects. She gets offended when the fake word is used in pro wrestling and knows the dangers of what happens in the ring. Jesse Sorensen is lucky to be alive and they have to make everything as safe as possible and that’s just the right thing to do.
*Carter was asked about their German events being canceled. Carter said they had an issue with their local promoter and while they don’t like to cancel shows, it was right the move to make. They need to spend more time and effort to grow the market and the fan base there.
*In regard to marketing, most series promote the debut and the finale. They have 52 weeks of shows to promote and that spreads them thin, so they sometimes rely on celebrity tie-ins to expose themselves to a new audience. They pick and choose the opportunities and try to grow their audience outside of just pro wrestling.
*Carter was asked about a UK spinoff using UK talents similar to Ring Ka King. Carter said, “we are working on something as we speak and we hope to announce something soon. Stay tuned.”
*Carter wanted to do TV from London as opposed to a PPV because more people would see it. Carter said she wanted to expose their broader audience worldwide for all to see.
*If they change their taping schedule and go live, they could conceivably tape in Manchester as well as London but right now, that’s not in the plans. If they change the taping schedule as they go forward, that could be a possibility still.
*The most perfect world would be on the road every week live but she can’t pull the trigger on that until it makes sense. She said that Universal allows them to have different fans every week and going live will allow a different significance and feel to the building.
*Dixie Carter approached SpikeTV about going live every week for the summer.
*As a private company, you don’t release earnings and breakdowns and the PPV buyrates won’t be released. She said their buys trickle in over the year and there is a lot of false information out there. You can’t counter every piece of false information out there, you just move on and ignore it.
*The X-Division remains important to them but they have had some injuries that has changed their storyline plans. You can’t just put anyone in there because if they can’t perform at that level, it’s glaringly apparent. They are looking for new talent and it’s a top priority.
*The European tour is very special to Carter and the company. The UK was the first country to truly give TNA their stamp of approval in terms of wanting TNA to be the top company in the industry. She said they just love the company and everyone in TNA is grateful for that. She said the European tour is a great experience, naming the Liverpool and Manchester venues as some of her favorite.
*Carter said the interactive aspect of the company with meet and greets and personally thanking fans like she likes to do is a critical part of the company.
*They want to continue to have Fan parties and interactive events in the UK between tours to keep the UK fans invested. She’d like to do a second tour a year in different markets.
*The Gutcheck deliberation that will air tomorrow was taped. There’s been talked about having a female Gutcheck contestant soon.
*Carter was asked about advice for someone wanting to break into the company. Carter said you have to be passionate about what you do and try harder than the next person. She said that if you work hard and you are passionate about what you do, you can make it happen. She said there are so many times where the company should have failed to exist but you can’t take no for an answer and if you don’t, you will succeed.
*In regard to negative feedback to Brooke Hogan, Carter said that she hasn’t been given a chance yet. They could have brought in someone from outside of the business but chose to bring her in. There’s a reason she’s a celebrity in her own right and will surprise everyone.
*The wrestlers prefer the four side ring and as MMA gets more popular, there’s some confusion between the two. They may used the six sided ring for special events down the line like they did for the Destination X PPV.
*Vince Russo was a great creative writer but sometimes its time for change in someone’s life. His strengths were his writing. She said they are trying to do things differently and improving upon them. She said he’s a truly nice man and she wishes him the best. She said the product change isn’t Russo related but looking at things with a fresh pair of eyes and trying to evolve the product around how a viewer might watch pro wrestling. They were doing that when Vince was here and now they are making the changes. They won’t be making the changes overnight but will be making them.
*Carter said they aren’t currently on TV in Spain but there’s been talk of touring there any way since there is such a huge fan base there.
*Carter said those who have been with the company from day one have a different perception on the fight to survive. She noted Kurt Angle, Sting and Hulk Hogan joining the company being big deals and said what Hogan is doing for the company is great for her and the company.
*Carter was asked about running live events in Israel and said it would be something special and amazing for their wrestlers and they hope it can happen down the line.
*They could have overruns on the live broadcasts but Spike has a live show at 11 PM so she doesn’t see it going long.
*Carter said that the audio levels of the crowd on PPVs hasn’t been up to par and she’s hoping the live broadcasts in the Impact Zone will do more to capture that live experience.
*Carter said that she doesn’t know what the perfect number of PPVs should be. 6-8 is a possibility.
*Don West leaving is a “heart-breaker” and he is a hard one to replace but they have what she called a “hit by a bus strategy” and Jimmy Jay has been trained to replace him, although West leaving will be a big loss.
*Carter said their biggest problem is having so many talents who deserve to be on TV every week and they have to slow things down and be conscientious to the fact that forcing everyone on the show means no one gets over. They have to build the stories.
*They are focusing on the digital media aspect of the company as they need to streamline that and get it ready for the future as technology evolves and moves forward. She said there are a lot of people who work crazy hours for the company and Bill Banks will have great success overseeing it.
*There haven’t been any talks with Spike TV as to decide when and whether to expand the live broadcasts past 12 weeks. She is just concerned about making every Thursday this summer special.