iPPV Part 4: Broadening the Scope for iPPVs
Originally posted in totalwrestlingmagazine.co.uk Vol 7
This has big an interesting month for pro wrestling. Not only do we have a hot feud brewing in WWE with CM Punk and John Cena, we are also seeing some shakes within the foundation of indy wrestling. Internet-PPVs or iPPVs have been the subject of my series of columns for the past four months as I have presented interviews with Gabe Sapolsky, Drew Cordeiro, & Mike Petkovich. But now I want to change the scope to the other side of the iPPV and where it can take the wrestling world.
Drew made some interesting points in the interview that I had with him in that he pointed out the limitations to iPPVs in that it doesn’t really create new fans in the sense that it allows more people to be exposed to the product, but that they would have had to be fans to begin with in order to even know the iPPV was taking place. I can’t say I disagree with that statement at all and I would be willing to take it even further in that fans who are going to buy a iPPV who are already fans of the product might even wait until the DVD comes out to see a more polished product with the extra matches and interviews that a DVD would be packaged with. With that in mind, we come to ROH who have been doing iPPVs for a few years now and are currently going to be taping for their first TV shows for the Sinclair Broadcast Group affiliates.
Ring of Honor were on HDNet, but HDNet was a small channel in the scope of the many affiliates that they potentially will be on in September. New fans might be able to more readily see their product as long as the advertising is there and that is what I want to discuss here. Being a marketing major I have some insight that may be different than the average viewer. I feel that wrestling promotions have not truly dipped into their funding and adequately set aside enough for proper advertising or proper distribution to allow fans to see that they have a product coming out on iPPV. I frequent wrestling news sites and forums and truly have not seen enough advertising put up and around for fans to be drawn in. ROH has a chance to change all of this.
ROH is going to be in several big markets of wrestling fans including the south and Midwest in particular. If they can actively promote not only their TV product but also possibly buy some TV time to showcase advertisements for their iPPVs then they truly have a chance to get some more eyes on what can be shown as quality for a much better price than $50 for a PPV. I would have to think the average wrestling fan probably has a computer or a laptop and would be willing to pay $15 to see a product that looks great and could possibly give them a better quality of show instead of having to pay $45 – $50 for a standard PPV. Yes there are many flaws to this idea in that are they willing to sit in front of a smaller screen (go out and buy a roku player!), are they willing to even give a product with not many big name talents a chance, and more importantly are they willing to give it a shot to begin with after the many disappointments from the mainstream promotions?
I would like to think that Ring of Honor could possibly change the perception of indy wrestling to not only the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) but also to the mainstream fans who might see their tv product for only an hour on a weekly basis to lead them to want to buy a two and a half to three hour iPPV for a decent price.
I’m not saying I want to see tons of pyro and wacky gimmicks (Bravado Brothers anyone?) but it would be nice to see a viral, gritty look to wrestling. To bring in that alternative mainstream fans that want to see something different from their wrestling. In what many would call a “X Division-esque” style, ROH brings what I feel is some of the best athletic based wrestling to its fans and I do think that many fans of WWE and TNA want to see this on a weekly basis instead of just seeing 3-4 minute matches that lead to nothing. ROH can also bring some more edgy storylines that will make more sense than a drug induced friendship or a storyline where all the heat is on a guy who is reportedly going to leave at the end of it. While I am in no way saying that CM Punk vs. Cena is not as great as some are saying, but I am saying that ROH had the now infamous “Summer of Punk” way before the WWE decided to tap into his promo abilities and ROH has some awesome talents that I will be discussing more next month to carry them to a larger audience.
It could be said that ROH is not for everyone and that is certainly true when it comes to the presentations of their iPPVs. There are going to be fans who think their dark intimate settings may seem amateurish as compared to the huge arenas that WWE is in and the well lit sound studios of TNA. But ROH can take the best of both with the new money backing them. I would assume that the SBG are going to use HD cameras, they are going to bring in more lighting rigs, better mics, and truly upgrade the look of ROH. They already have shown a new logo and hopefully this is one of many things they change over the next few months as they bring ROH to the forefront of their stations.
As for what they can do for the iPPV as a whole, I believe they can create a fan base that may start looking at ROH iPPVs and realize that GFL has other wrestling such as Beyond Wrestling on their for prices that are more than reasonable. AAW recently stated they are going over to affiliated WWNLive.com with DGUSA, EVOLVE, FIP and probably others soon, it can do nothing but good that ROH is going to reach a larger fan base who might start looking at early events and see those DGUSA & FIP talents. It is actually how I got hooked onto really only paying for iPPVs and stopped paying for PPVs unless they were of the “ big four” in the WWE and very very few in TNA.
The more that ROH can raise the awareness of wrestling outside of the mainstream perception, the better it is for all indy wrestling as a whole. It can be hard for those who leave the WWE to bring fans to the indy scene but ROH has the best of both worlds in that it already has a great fan base and can bring in more fans who might have wanted to see their product but did not have the means or understanding of how to get their DVDs. While that statement may seem very naïve in that how could someone who is online not know about iPPVs, think of how many people don’t know about Hulu Plus or that Netflix streams DVDs and shows for only $8 a month instead of having to pay over $50 for the same movies and tv shows.
In the end ROH can bring some more eyes not only to their product but they might also open up a consumer gate to iPPVs in general and with that there is a ton of potential where iPPVs might start paying for advertising on TV stations or main stream web based ads such as iTunes or Hulu. It can only be a good thing that ROH is on the cusp of being seen by more fans and I believe that iPPVs will be better for it.