WWE CFO George Barrios indicated this week that WWE has no plans to retreat from the current three-hour Raw format.
Despite concerns over the erosion of WWE’s flagship show in the long-term, Barrios pointed to several reasons why WWE (and USA Network) are at least publicly pleased with the current three-hour shift during a presentation at the 40th Annual UBS Global Media Conference in New York on Monday.
– In reference to the addition of a third hour (as opposed to the actual third hour of Raw which has experienced audience erosion), Barrios said the 8:00 p.m. hour is “up 35 percent versus what it replaced for USA.” Barrios did not say if that is viewership, overall rating, a key demographic, or a combination of numbers.
– Barrios said USA is “very happy with that,” referring to the additional hour of programming. “The content is delivering for our network partners,” Barrios said.
– The short-term benefit of returning to six hours of original TV programming is generating more revenue from the more-lucrative third hour of Raw (as opposed to one hour of the D-Level Superstars show) and the new “Main Event” show (as opposed to one hour of the C-Level ECW/NXT).
– The only real concern expressed by Barrios is whether WWE is “duplicating” content across all of their shows. However, he claimed the audience is not duplicating, suggesting WWE is reaching a majority of new viewers with each show, as opposed to a majority of repeat viewers.
“When we went from six hours of television to four hours of television domestically couple of years ago, our total viewership declined,” Barrios said. “Is there duplication between Raw, Smackdown and now Main Event, Saturday Slam? Of course there is some duplication, but there is non duplicate of the audience.”