Trash Talking: TNA's PPV Strategy

written by @Robbie_G_CH

This week TNA announced that they are changing their Pay-Per-View strategy, moving away from one event per month to a model that includes a quarterly live PPV and seven pre-recorded events that will go under the banner of 'One Night Only'. 

This major shake-up announced by TNA President Dixie Carter is a much needed change for TNA and makes perfect business sense. Currently, TNA gains a large percentage of their revenue through Spike TV with the weekly Impact Wrestling, whereas the PPV buy rates languish behind those offered by the competition, WWE. To put it in perspective, the worst ever WWE buy rate for a PPV gained an estimated 35,000 more domestic purchases than TNA's biggest event in 2012, Bound For Glory. In a shrinking economy, fans pick and choose the events they buy more so than previous. The old model didn't allow for the weekly free shows to build up to a whole event worth buying. Some months had a lack of unique selling points, with repeat bookings from month to month and others not getting enough hype with the card only being revealed days before the event. This new model should provide ample time for build up to events that are must see.

The Big Four

The quarterly live events will start with Genesis and will include Lockdown in March, Slammiversary in June and Bound For Glory in October. The model is similar to that which WWF used in the late 80's and early 90's, allowing for each event to be built up to and create the most hype. Hopefully, TNA will be able to recreate this and gain substantially larger buy rates for the four big events than they did for twelve small ones. With the PPV's taking place outside of the Impact Zone; with the exception of Genesis; the arena's will add a grander scale, coupled with three months build, should create the appearance that these are special events that can't be missed.

Moving away from the monthly model will allow for TNA to focus on freshening up Impact. Removing the monthly cycle of building up to the next event, whilst fitting in Open Fight Night, Gut Check and Championship Thursday and allow them to create the best TV show that they can. The themed Impacts can now take place less frequently, allowing them to be built up more to make them special and give a greater push for television ratings. This will work well for Gut Check, as the theme needs slowing down, otherwise the roster will be flooded with new talent. If this were to take place only once between pay-per-views, then it will provide a greater competition for the final places and allow only the best talent to make it to Impact.

The build up for each event will be unique, the 'Road to Lockdown' will incorporate TNA's tour of the UK which will feature a few cage matches from tapings in Manchester and London, whilst it is expected that the Bound For Glory series will provide the build up to the BFG event.

This month's Genesis event is classed as the first of these quarterly pay-per-views, but it is more in line as the last of the old monthly model. It has had barely any build up, with the majority of the card being added on the 'go home' show. Also, the event is taking place in the Impact Zone as-per-usual, which doesn't give it that feeling of a must watch. It is difficult to see whether Genesis will maintain it's status as a pay-per-view next year or if it will be replaced with another named event or be given a theme to make it more of an super-show.   

One Night Only

Filling in the gaps between the 'Big Four' will be the 'One Night Only' series, these events will be pre-recorded and go out in the US on a Friday night once a month. Unlike the live pay-per-views these will be unrelated to the happenings on Impact Wrestling so no build up will feature on the weekly show, these will be self contained events giving them more of an independent super-show show feeling, especially as many are expected to include wrestlers not contracted to TNA.

The events will be much cheaper than the live pay-per-views to appeal to those who may have second thoughts about watching a non-essential show, the only downside is that being prerecorded the results will appear online once the show as been filmed, but without title matches and those that progress feuds then spoilers will unlikely make to much of a difference to the viewing experience. If TNA can put on top quality matches on these cards, then fans will be likely to seek them out, not wanting to miss out on something special. 

Themed events will make up the 'One Night Only' series; with X-travaganza and Joker's Wild being the only two officially announced so far. The first being focused on the X Division, whilst the latter is a Tag Team tournament; but expect to see the return of the World X Cup, a Hardcore Justice theme and an event dedicated to the Knockouts. Having themed events provide fans with something a little different, but they do run the risk of repeating themselves. From the rumored events to take place, five of them look to be tournaments, whilst a good format for a one off event and adds to the serious competition element, they could put fans off the idea of watching if they feel like they have seen it before. 

This change is a bold move for TNA. Moving away from a model that they have used since the demise of the weekly pay-per-views in 2004, they are trying something that could freshen up their product. Not only on the pay-per-view front, but also give Impact Wrestling a boost. Removing the pay-per-view hype from Impact will allow them to tell better stories and hold better matches on TV, which should, over time, provide better viewing figures. The pre-recorded events could be taken on the road or even to different countries such as the UK to give them a fresher feel and a greater revenue of gate receipts. Providing the booking doesn't become counter-productive and give too many big matches away on free TV and the live events become must see events, TNA could legitimately take things to the next level.

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