There is panic in the WWE locker room concerning the slumping RAW ratings. As most of you know by now, Monday’s edition of RAW only did a 2.8 cable rating. For those that do not remember, there was a glitch in the ratings a couple of months back that caused the RAW rating to report at a low 2.5, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with this week’s low rating.
To further add to the stress of the low ratings, WWE has not been on the best of terms with the USA Network lately. Bonnie Hammer, an executive for the USA Network and the person that spearheaded the movement to bring RAW back to USA from Spike TV, has been sending the WWE RAW Creative Team 10-20 suggestions on a regular basis. From what we have heard, Vince McMahon reads these ideas, passes them along to Stephanie, who gives them to Head RAW Creative Team member Brian Gewirtz. It is said that Gewirtz basically goes over all of them and buries them in front of the entire Creative Team. One of the reasons WWE has not considered a single idea from Hammer is because they are insecure about someone else’s ideas working better than what they came up with.
Perhaps the scariest thing out of all of this is that the three year deal that WWE signed with USA/NBC/Universal on April 4, 2005 comes due shortly after next year’s WrestleMania. While RAW has done well enough to prevent the USA Network from cancelling them (WWE has allowed USA to become the number-one ranked cable network and without them they’d lose that spot), they have not delivered the numbers that the USA Network expected when the deal was signed and those were upper 4’s and 5’s. The show has been performing in the mid to low 3’s and did in the high 2’s this past week.
Furthermore this gives WWE very little leverage for negotiations and may cause them to sign a deal worth significantly less than what they signed three years ago. With the company basically giving up on pay-per-view to be their single main revenue generator in favor of television rights and fees it could affect the bottom line. While not all negative, the future outlook is not positive.