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Meltzer spills on TNA's situation (not looking good)


Dead Crow
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Posted on the TNAIMPACT! Community forum - from the Wrestling Observer...

 

It was the biggest week in TNA history, and now, from all signs, when it didn’t pan out, the company is in critical condition.

 

Here is the basic financial score. Panda Energy, in the two plus years it has been funding TNA, has lost approximately $15million on the venture. This came on the heels of the $1.6 million Health South lost in getting the company off the ground. There may also have been losses that Jerry Jarrett incurred during the interim period between Health South money and Panda Energy money. Because of the cost of buying television time, producing television, and signing higher priced talent, the losses in recent months have hit $200,000 to $250,000 per week. With the exception of WCW from 1999 on, no wrestling company in history is believed to have ever burned money at anywhere near close to this rate. Worse, they’ve done so without really making any mark on the industry or having any significant public visibility. There is simply no possible way the company could make money as things stand, but that has been clear for some time. The weekly PPV system was a big loser. Overseas revenue, television ad revenue and merchandising income, something counted on for profitability because of the WWE model, has been largely non-existent. All the talk of doing house shows is a pipe dream, because WWE is having difficulty drawing for house shows, and TNA simply can’t make money running house shows. IT would only cause more losses. The only revenue source is PPV.

 

While the company did what is being estimated by cable sources as 30,000 to 35,000 buys for Victory Road, which should bring the company from $385,000 to $450,000 in revenue, that only cuts monthly losses down to about $550,000 to $615,000 for November. Most likely, the number of buys drop for the Turning Point show in 12/5, although I don’t expect them to drop drastically, and do consider the numbers, four times what they were averaging on Wednesdays, as a success. However, there were those internally pegging 50,000 buys as the prediction. The one good thing is it seems to be proven the monthly idea at $”4.95 is far superior to the weekly at $9.95. The company, to break even, with all the costs, needs the PPV’s, that are virtually all the revenue they have, to do nearly 80,000 buys per show to become financially solvent. With the cutting back of expenses by taping two shows of Impact every other week, a saving of between $100,000 and $200,000 a week, that cuts the needed buys to somewhere near 62,000 and 70,000 for the company to break-even, again figures which are unattainable. That number is simply impossible no matter what stars they get when the TV is on such a poor time slot. Smackdown, for instance, does close to five million viewers a week, and the last Smackdown PPV did less than 200,00 buys. TNA Impact does maybe 140,000 total viewers per week. The UFC, which is significantly hotter (although has virtually no television), doesn’t come near the average TNA needs to break even on PPV shows, and only tops it when it has a really special main event. The numbers don’t add up. As we’ve written so many times, the company’s only answers if they were even in this game, was to know they needed patience, and until they got a good time slot for TV to have real visibility, and started bidding for top talent, they aren’t even in the game. If they weren’t willing to understand those rules, they had no business being in. Getting cold feet about losses now shows they never should have gotten in, because the venture had no potential for short-term profits until it established itself on TV in a good time slot and built an audience.

 

Far more important than the PPV numbers were the numbers for the two Best Damn Sports Show Period specials. The company was of the belief if they could average a 0.35 rating on the two 8pm showings on 11/10 and 11/11, that Fox Sports Net would turn Monday night into a wrestling night. They would have the BDSSP personalities do a weekly wrestling taping, for an 8-9.30 pm show in their regular time slot, which couldn’t be better, getting the lead-in on Raw, and building to main events against the usual lengthy interview open. This wouldn’t the old Monday Night Wars, because Fox Sports Net isn’t even a blip on the radar screen compared to TNT, or even Spike. The credibility of the celebrities and the time slot would drive the wrestling product. The wrestling would drive the ratings of what is a poorly rated by heavily promoted network flagship show, and hopefully also serve to increase the rating a little for the rest of the week.

 

Unfortunately, the first set of ratings we got last week, which were based on the overnights, which still fell al little short, didn’t hold up. The final numbers were: The original 8pm airing on 11/10 did a 0.26 rating (the show averages a 0.13 on Wednesday nights in the first run) and the 11pm airing did a 0.18 (averages 0.12). For 11/11, the first showing did a 0.18 (0.13 average in the slot), and 11pm showing did a 0.14 (0.12 average in that slot). At those numbers, the idea of getting a Monday prime time show is said to be highly unlikely by FSN sources. They were floating numbers claming they did triple what the show usually does, but they were really, for the two nights, 52% above, which is good, but not what they needed. UFC did an 0.43 a few years back, with a similar level of promotion, and worse, did a 0.47 with virtually no promotion on a Sunday afternoon. A James Toney boxing match on BDSSP did a 0.76 on the 8pm shows as the highest rated episode in the history of the show. The success of the Toney show is what got the BDSSP people interested in doing the pro wrestling week, as well as doing two boxing specials in December, including a Michael Moorer fight and the “Next Great Champ” championship match. The one thing that has to be noted when it comes to FSN ratings, is because we are talking about such low numbers, the margin of error is pretty high. The difference between a 0.1 and a 0.3 in some markets is just a viewer or two in the sample group. But it doesn’t matter, because accurate or not, and the odds are those numbers could be just as inaccurate on the high side as the low side, they are the gospel of the industry. Several in the industry noted to us when they read the real numbers, it was an eerie feeling, knowing so much was riding on it, how much the margin of error really is, and knowing they came up well short of what they needed at such a critical time. Worse from a morale standpoint has to be the fact that the second night drew less than the first night, even though so much of the first night were angles to build to the matches on the second night. It’s the same reality as the Friday ratings starting out so positively, and going down over time.

 

There are so many different things going on right now. The Jarrett’s and the Carters don’t see eye-to-eye, in particular Jeff Jarrett and Dixie Carter. It’s been noted that Jerry Jarrett has clearly undermined Jeff, although it’s a debatable point whether it’s for the good of the company or not. Jerry has apparently felt Jeff’s ideas about wrestling are too heavily influence by Vince Russo to the point Jerry can’t steer him back to a logical wrestling direction. Russo is totally gone from the company, and had confided to friends he thought TNA was done as soon as Dixie Carter got pregnant, feeling once she had her baby, her focus would be less on her wrestling company that was such a money drain. Considering the booking position in a company like this is always in play, and as long as he’s on the payroll he’s always in a position to be called after a failure, his leaving a $100,000 per year job that he only worked one day per week speaks volumes of how he reads the future. Others say Jerry is totally living on past laurels, has really not kept up on the business closely in ten years and is totally out of step when it comes to modern wrestling and modern fans. From reading his book, you get the impression his lengthy experiences in wrestling have taught him a lot of valuable lessons regarding talent and booking, but he had also not kept up with the modern business, which is an historic kiss of death for even the giants of the industry when making a comeback after being away. A sale of the company by Panda, or even Panda folding the company, wouldn’t surprise people close to the scene. Many expect one or the other to happen over the next 90 days. Jerry is now in more of a power position, while Dixie Carter had tried to appease wrestlers complaining that Jeff had booked the entire show around himself and were on the verge of leaving to giver her time and a change would be made. Jerry is thought to have the only chance to sign Hulk Hogan, since he gave Hogan one of his early breaks in the late 70’s and Hogan at least respects him as a promoter and booker who does have a legitimate impressive track record, even though it was a different business and a full generation ago. One has to think Hogan is never coming, particularly now that the primetime slot is so unlikely, because since WCW, he’s been very careful to avoid being tainted with failure. Jerry is also said to have the lead on two potential buyers, but Bob Carter has yet to give him a money figure that he wants for his stock. Unless the new ownership has a way to get them on a good time slot and expects losses while building the brand (and at that point you’d need a great booker with new ideas and the ability to get new talent over and have a unique concept of wrestling or else it’ll fail even with a good slot), they would only be fooling themselves. The only fit I can see working is a deal with Turner Broadcasting, but even then, they won’t be able to be put on the air likely until the spring of 2006.

 

Jerry’s move was to replace Jeff as booker with Dusty Rhodes. To the surprise of many, Dutch Mantel still has a job and will be Rhodes’ assistant, although nobody was taking bets on how long that would last. Jeremy Borash and Bill Banks are still giving input, but when the change was made on 11/19, it was clearly Dusty’s direction from this point forward. Many noted that Jerry going with Dusty showed once again how out of touch Jerry is with modern wrestling. Rhodes, 69, is just a few years younger than Jarrett, and was a successful booker from 1984-86 with Jim Crockett Promotions during its national expansion, which first made the company bigger than it had ever been. The downside was by the end of 1987, when the company’s business started falling due to going with a pat hand on top for too long (wrestling’s repeated mistake of trying to relive glory periods after they are over), the company was deep in debt and would have declared bankruptcy by the end of 1988 had Turner Broadcasting not purchased the company because they wanted to keep the highly rated traditional wrestling programming.

 

Rhodes was a huge name in the industry during Jarrett’s day as a major power broker as one of the top drawing wrestlers in the world for more than a decade. Rhodes also hasn’t had a successful year booking since 1986, and has booked numerous companies, including WCW, and his own companies, with little to no success. When Rhodes has been asked about what he’d do to turn things around, he was of the opinion that the only thing that draws is bringing back old legends, and was down on a lot of the wrestlers being on top who weren’t strong on interviews or had that special charisma. In the 80’s, Rhodes’ strength was an ability to make strong babyfaces, although none were ever over stronger than himself, which is certainly something the company needs. He’s a big believer in talking over action in the ring, because he was a great talking in his day, and remained a headliner long after he could do little in the ring but have talented heels work off him. He has in the past had an ability to create stars, which this company needs, but few have shown a past history at that better than Jerry Jarrett. Doing so is virtually impossible when you have television that so few are watching.

 

The Rhodes system in the past has been based on having a company filled with great talkers, which, with a few notable exceptions, is exactly the weakness of the current crew. He inherits a lot of wrestlers who can deliver in the ring, most of whom come across as interchangeable and most of whom haven’t gotten over to the weekly regulars. Rhodes built things around strong faces, who were never put in a position where they let the crowd down, chasing heel champions, who would escape with frequent screwjob endings. While his babyface philosophy is probably what is needed today, if he wasn’t evolved from that thought process regarding big match finishes, this won’t make it because that won’t fly on PPV today. The other question that has to do with every booker who is a performer is, how much will he be allowed to feature himself, because he is just about the best talker in the company, but is almost three decades past his prime as a performer. And there is also the question if he’d be allowed to bring in his son, and if he’d avoid the natural over pushing of him and creating a new nepotism deal in a business choking with that problem. Rhodes was introduced as the new booker to the wrestlers at the taping on 11/23, although is direction won’t start until the next taping, since the PPV was already booked. He talked to the X Division guys about slowing down their work, working on their promos and differentiating them.

 

It just shows how out of touch people are when a Gabe Sapolsky, who has a proven track record in 2004 in the US, doesn’t get asked (not that he’d do it, but if you paid attention to the current wrestling scene he’s clearly the best candidate out there). It’s as if much of the industry has stalled around 1988, and nothing in the last 16 years has registered, because so many in power grew up and learned wrestling in the 70’s and 80’s. At least Mantel had a successful track record coming in. The negative was Puerto Rico is a completely different culture with fan base described as closer to 70’s level US than modern level, and a culture filled with established starts with mainstream name recognition. Most importantly, in Puerto Rico, both groups had TV that everybody watches. Mantel’s jump from WWC to IWA as booker coincided with the turning around of that wrestling war, and he was a significant part of it, even though he’s not well liked there these days. But he wasn’t able to do much of anything for this product. Some of his stuff has been logical by the book. Nothing has been particularly grabbing. But, ultimately, it was doomed without TV, and still doomed with TV on such a weak network in such a poor timeslot.

 

As noted last week, the official decision was made this week of going to bi-weekly tapings of Impact to cut costs, and numerous other cost cutting measures are expected. The company taped two shows on 11/23, and will tape again on 12/7 and 12/21. Xplosion will turn into a magazine format show. It is expected that wrestlers will be paid per show they appear on, so the guys who work every TV show won’t be cut in pay, and will actually have an easier schedule only having to travel every other week. The positives of this are cutting in half of television production costs. There is a negative in the lack of immediacy, particularly for the second week show, which would be on a 12-day tape delay. In the slow moving wrestling business of a decade ago, that would be no problem, but in today’s business, where things break on almost a daily basis, and with such a specialized small audience, that could be significant. Still, given the finances, it’s the right option for now, and it can be changed if needed. If the company will pay wrestlers per show they appear on and their incomes aren’t sliced in half, it’s largely a benefit. If wrestlers suddenly get their income slashed at this point, after being cut once when Wednesday PPV’s were dropped, it would kill morale. At the same time, it isn’t like there are a lot of options available these days.

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I really didn't think TNA's financial situations were this bad, I knew they were working on a loss, but not that bad. It will be a huge shame if TNA folds at this stage. If it can get a better time slot on the FSN then maybe it can become a true alternative for fans. I do think Panda may sell the company though, but hopefully someone else will be able to buy it.
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O dear old Meltz is summising again, no one bar Panda Energy, and TNA knows their financial otugoings and incomings at all. Its a private company unlike WWE so they dont give out any info on this sort of thing. Hes obviously summising and so i dont hold any of it in high regard but meh another case of Meltzer said it so it MUST be true crap.
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Kid Kash left TNA for a short while and most know about his shoot and then ruip the crap outta him. As for Rhodes replacing JJ that was common knowledge, everyone knew about it, so why is it these figures only meltz can see? Surely someone else must have them for him to see them? No because theyre rubbish
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Fletcher why are they rubbish? Just cause you say they are?

 

Meltzer is known as probably the most reputable wrestling source anywhere, so why would he lie? What evidence do you have to suggest TNA and Panda energy don't give out that information? As opposed to Meltzer who is right 99% of the time.

 

How about you back your own rubbish with facts some time? I mean if I lied, you see TNA taking out any lawsuits over liable?

 

Didn't think so

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Ah the perfect smark example. meltzer said it, so it MUST BE TRUE. Rubbish, i personally never listen to a thing the guy has to say and a hell of a lot more people than you think do the same as me.

 

What source does he have to suggest his information huh? How did he get it? the same simple agruements cane be made against mr Meltzer

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Now that would be so cool, he could go back to his WCW roots and hire guys which huge Egos like say Triple H rename the fed NWA THA (triple h apprciation), stick guys on stupid contracts giving them totall creative control all on a tv platform that dose'nt draw at all for a spring classic we could have Warrior v Hogan v Savage, whilst guys like AJ Styles are forced to seek alternate employment in stamford.

 

Does sound like a good idea now, don't it.

 

On another note what is it with Pandas messing about with american wrestling feds, they should stick to what they do best like eat leaves.

Edited by BRM
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Now that would be so cool, he could go back to his WCW roots and hire guys which huge Egos like say Triple H rename the fed NWA THA (triple h apprciation), stick guys on stupid contracts giving them totall creative control all on a tv platform that dose'nt draw at all for a spring classic we could have Warrior v Hogan v Savage, whilst guys like AJ Styles are forced to seek alternate employment in stamford.

 

Does sound like a good idea now, don't it.

 

On another note what is it with Pandas messing about with american wrestling feds, they should stick to what they do best like eat leaves.

 

Well, when its chock full of sarcasm, its obviously going to sound like shit, but if you would prefer TNA to go out of business and Vince to continue to be the only game in town, then more power to you.

 

As for the pandas, well, if Vince McMahon didnt ILLEGALLY break his agreement with them time after time after time and ignore all their requests to stop doing so (Vince is God you see, he believes he is above the law and can do whatever he wants) then he would still have the WWF name and initials. Vince brought it ALL on himself, the Panda people are just protecting their intellectual property (sound familiar, Vince?) and you cant blame them for that.

 

In his own words: "Vince screwed Vince!"

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My post was chock full of sarcasam , but if you read the post you will notice that i have no problem with TNA what so ever, maybe i'm not as big a fan as some people but no problem. I also knocked the wwe in the triple h sense.

I just don't see Billonaire Ted bothering with wrestling anymore it's already cost him to much wrestling, so why would he want to jump back into a cut throat world where business is down. By what buying a company that ain't making any money and with crappy tv slots???

 

The panda comment was made in passing comment as i found it that the WWE were sued by the WWF who use a panda as there logo and a another wrestling company namely TNA is funded by a company called PANDA.

 

God if i had a pound for everytime somebody bored me with a post about the true facts over the WWE/WWF story then i would be a millionaire.

 

I'm bored of it now.

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My post was chock full of sarcasam , but if you read the post you will notice that i have no problem with TNA what so ever, maybe i'm not as big a fan as some people but no problem. I also knocked the wwe in the triple h sense.

I just don't see Billonaire Ted bothering with wrestling anymore it's already cost him to much wrestling, so why would he want to jump back into a cut throat world where business is down. By what buying a company that ain't making any money and with crappy tv slots???

 

The panda comment was made in passing comment as i found it that the WWE were sued by the WWF who use a panda as there logo and a another wrestling company namely TNA is funded by a company called PANDA.

 

God if i had a pound for everytime somebody bored me with a post about the true facts over the WWE/WWF story then i would be a millionaire.

 

I'm bored of it now.

 

If your bored of it, then dont bring it up, pretty simple concept really, dont you think?

 

As for Turner, he is a lifelong wrestling mark with more money than he cares to worry about. He could lose hundreds of thousands a day and it would be like you dropping a couple quid down the back seat of a taxi after a Saturday night out on the P-I-double-S. He would do it because he is a fan, he enjoyed having WCW apparently, so I'm sure he would enjoy having TNA too. And dont forget, the man owns loads of TV stations, he could put TNA on any time slot he wanted.

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I brought it up as it was something i noticed and found fairly funny, sorry if you don't get my sense of humour must come from being a northen boy. Unfortunatly for Turner WCW was taken off TNT not by Vinnie Mac not by Ted Turner but the AOL Time Warner group as ratings were so down. You see Ted dose'nt have as much say as he used after he sold out. So sticking it on a tv station is'nt as easy as you make it out to be. Yes a slot like the current Impact slot on friday afternoon may be fine, but hardly what ted would want.

 

You say it like Ted has money to burn, well he has'nt most of his money is already tied up, so again he would have to go and ask the board at AOL and with the previous history with WCW the current downturn in business i would have to think that they would probably laugth him out of the room.

 

Business men are in business to make money, not lose it.

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Turner is losing money these days - he's not the man he once was in the media world. True, a wrestling show would be great to have on TBS (not TNT - they repackaged that channel to get away from the WCW stigma), but I tihnk Turner probably has other issues to deal with (which is a shame).
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I think the reason Turner remains loyal to wrestling is that when the WTBS SuperStation lauched, the wrestling programming was a huge success for him, and thats why he remains loyal to wrestling shows, and believe they are good TV.

 

However, things have changed alot over the years, as Draven said, TNT is a much more "up market" tv station than it was when it carried WCW, and also wrestling is not the ratings winner it once was, so only time will tell I suppose.

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I would hope Turner learnt his lesson last time... and shall not repeat the same mistake. I hate the man so much.

 

*Waves goodbye to WC... I mean TNA*

 

Bye bye now. Looking forward to seeing the stupid 6 sided ring on Ebay. Where the hell did the TNA that I love go?

 

Tell me though since I'm interested... if they'd continued to stay in the Asylum and kept the old system etc rather than completely disney-fy their product would they still be in this situation?

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Tell me though since I'm interested... if they'd continued to stay in the Asylum and kept the old system etc rather than completely disney-fy their product would they still be in this situation?

 

If they had stayed in the Asylum and kept doing what they were doing, they would be out of business already, no doubt.

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The Asylum as a building, was awful. Little to no fan reaction, poor-looking production, and didn't serve to bring new fans in. Florida is at least a better atmosphere and opens the door for better production and crowds.

 

Still, we all know they're losing money fast, and have done since Day 1. As it has been since they first bought it, it's all on the shoulders of the Carters - as soon as they get sick of the losses, they'll pull the plug, and then it's all over.

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Fletcher if you read Meltzer's stuff, the things he says are always true. Regardless of sources, 99% of the time, he's completely bang on the money. If someone keeps telling you certain stuff about certain things, which is always right, why would you not want to believe it?

 

The days when he is consistently wrong, are the days when I'll stop believing what he writes. It's not the smarks view, it's the logical view. If someone's right 99% of the time before, I ain't betting against him being right with TNA.

 

Perhaps you just don't want to believe it, and refuse to acknowledge it. When your right about stuff 99% of the time, and are probably the most reputable source of wrestling around, then I'll believe one word you say. Until then, stop being bias, and get over sour grapes about TNA being in crap financial circumstances.

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