Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Thursday Nitro

Hi Scott,

Just thought, I know that at a certain point Nitro became unwatchable period. But, hypothetically, if, say around summer '99, WCW just decided to quit the Wresting Wars and move to, say, Thursday, would that have made a difference as far as their longevity was concerned.

I mean, WCW had a built in audience that was giving them a 4.0 no matter what Raw was doing. If they could move that audience to another night and not be tainted by the loser stink of admitting defeat in the Wars, I feel like maybe they could rebuild their portion of the audience who were amenable to watching Nitro but were, for whatever reason, watching Raw.

​Yeah, but the problem with all these fantasy scenarios is that WCW had a kill switch on it of March 2001 no matter what.  Even if WCW was still drawing decent ratings (which they were) and carrying a reasonable audience with them, Jamie Kellner wanted wrestling off Time-Warner's networks.  Period.  The only hope of survival would have been another company buying WCW and moving it to a competing network​, like USA.  They couldn't move to a Turner network and they couldn't move to Viacom due to the WWF deal, so pretty much it was USA or FOX or dead.  And without TV, WCW was worthless except as the library that Vince bought.  

59 comments:

  1. Just remember kids, nobody in the WWF killed WCW. Turner killed WCW. Bischoff had a sale in place with a group of investors to buy the company. WCW was killed because Turner cancelled Nitro and Vince swooped in with the first-right-of-refusal clause he won in a lawsuit.

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  2. It was a season finale...they could still get brought back like X-files and Twin Peaks is

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  3. The other problem was that they had all those contracts tied directly to Turner (Hogan, Hall, Nash, Goldberg) instead of WCW. It wasn't like Fusient could just buy WCW and have Goldberg show up on FOX with it. Basically they would have the rights to the name and a very limited talent pool and not much else. It really was a fool's errand on their part thinking they could make a go of it.

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  4. People don't realize the built in audience that Monday night already had for wrestling viewers. Having it on Monday was essential to survival.


    That's also the best reason why the best location for a hotdog cart... is across the street from another successful hotdog cart.

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  5. Weeeeeeell, if they're still doing 4.0s, presumably they're also still drawing lots of money, they would have been less desperate to combat Raw than they were in 1999 and 2000 and thus the show quality might be better, and maybe in the company in that state the company would have been worth more you'd have more people interested in purchasing it than just Eric Bischoff & The Wonder Kid and Vince.

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  6. Was it really though, it'd only been a few years at that point. Smackdown often did higher ratings than Raw, and WCW had a long history of Saturday night being their number 1 night.

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  7. Let's be clear, Nitro wasn't pulling in 4.0's anymore. They would get low 3's whenever Russo would return then slip back into the 2's. That's still a good audience but not good enough. And in 01, anybody with a crystal ball could have seen wrestling on the downside of its early 99 peak. 10 million people watching wrestling a week was not happening again.

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  8. i still think that if WCW was pulling in 1998 ratings in March 2001 they wouldn't have been cancelled. I haven't spoken to Jamie Kellner myself, admittedly.

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  9. SmackDown never did better ratings than Raw.

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  10. Kellner sounds like a douche tho:

    "Jamie Kellner, head of Turner Broadcasting, part of the AOL Time Warner conglomerate, told the newsweekly CableWorld that you are a thief if you use one of a PVR's best features -- skipping commercials.

    ``Your contract with the network when you get the show is you're going to watch the spots,'' he said. ``Otherwise you couldn't get the show on an ad-supported basis.''

    Whenever you fail to watch a commercial, he added, ``you're actually stealing the programming.''

    It gets better. When the interviewer asked whether it's OK to go to the bathroom or get a soft drink out of the refrigerator, Kellner replied, `` I guess there's a certain amount of tolerance for going to the bathroom.''

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  11. it did many times in 2002/3. Put yourself in my shoes: why would I have said it if it wasn't true?

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  12. Maybe, some people just have it against wrestling and it sure seemed like Kellner was one of them. Money be damned.If WCW was still a valuable property, I could see another network have interest though and Time Warner selling it off for a bundle instead of what Vince did.

    It would have been interesting if Turner had stayed in charge how long WCW could have gone. WWE history paints it as Vince overcoming and crushing Ted Turner and the evil WCW, but really the AOL/Time Warner merger is what was the eventual end of it.

    If Turner was still in charge and he reinvested his money and resources into it, perhaps they might have eventually turned it around.

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  13. It may have been a few years for "RAW" (and even that's enough to establish an audience), but the WWF had wrestling on Monday nights for over a decade before Nitro started.

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  14. WCW just wasn't going to bring in the advertisers like...umm. That one show.

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  15. Tru dat. I always thought that even though the wrestling boom had peaked some, it was still high enough that someone would give them a shot. I mean, TNA has been on cable television for 11 years for God sake's. Like you said, Nitro's ratings were actually pretty good in the grand scheme of cable television. But I guess with no star power what could you do?

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  16. There was always a giant anti-wrestling bias within Turner among the professional television people. Turner himself was very loyal to wrestling because a) he was a fan and b) because when the SuperStation first started wrestling was one of his best rated shows and he appreciated it a lot. Once Ted was out of the picture, that was it.

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  17. why were they signed with Turner and not WCW? It is not like Nash or Hall would be an AOL Blog writer or act on Charmed on a regular basis.

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  18. Ratings aren't the whole story. Ratings drive advertising revenue - and wrestling often has had trouble getting advertisers even with solid ratings.




    But starting around this time cable networks really started to try to focus on niches - Spike"became "Men's programming". TBS became comedy while Turner focused on drama. And if they felt wrestling didn't fit into their overall brand - it was going to be a tough sell even with 1998 ratings.

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  19. I just can’t imagine that 1998 show getting cancelled. It seems crazy to me, whereas that show in 2001 was dismal and dark and awful and reeked of death. I need to speak to Kellner, I really do.

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  20. Brendan McDonaldJune 9, 2015 at 8:01 AM

    That was all fuzzy math accounting done to keep WCW from looking like an apocalyptic failure rather than just a slight money loser.


    In fact, Vince used to call them on it when Nitro was beating Raw in the ratings.

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  21. They should have made it a one-hour Saturday morning show. SaturDay-Glo or something.

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  22. kbwrestlingreviewsJune 9, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    Mostly this. I've never bought the idea that it was Kellner and only Kellner that killed WCW. The company had been bleeding money for years and had killed itself off with all the stupid decisions. If it had still been making huge profits and drawing good (not mind blowing) ratings, I highly doubt it goes off the air. When you lose a million bucks a week for a year though, that's not one man's decision killing you off. That's one man's decision putting you out of your misery.

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  23. Maybe vince payed keller off. They could have had a deal in place before the eventual death of wcw. Some type of backroom deal would be right up vince's ally.

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  24. If WCW was making $62 million a year and not losing it I doubt Kellner would've killed WCW.

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  25. Kellner never wanted WCW. He knew they were dead in the water once HHH showed up with a tank.

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  26. If you read Death of WCW there is talk about an inside deal although not with Kellner another executive at Turner that briefly worked for Vince as well.

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  27. Are you sure about that? I thought it was just Hogan who had the Turner contract.

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  28. IIRC, Nitro was going to move to TBS if Bischoff bought it.

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  29. Kellner's role is overstated. Did he like wrestling? Absolutely not. There is a book called "Season Finale: The Unexpected Rise and Fall of the WB and UPN." Kellner was instrumental in starting the WB and there are several mentions of Kellner's opinion of wrestling as it relates to Smackdown being on UPN. But, what you can also take from the book is that Kellner is a business man first. He would not have pulled WCW if it was profitable, nor would he have had the support of the board of directors and other execs if he was to have done so.


    Kellner had a vision for TBS (comedy) and TNT (the place for drama). I think he and his succesors did a great job in branding both channels. Kellner was a huge proponent of branding a channel and did so with WB actively being the channel for teens, young adults, and women with shows like Felicity, Buffy, Angel, Dawson's Creek, 7th Heaven, Smallville, Gilmore Girls, etc.


    Wrestling didn't fit the vision and with WCW's hemoraging of money, it wasn't worth violating that vision. In additon to the losses, you had a damaged brand that, as is often the case with wrestling, was bringing less dollars in advertising for comparable ratings than other shows. A brand that was pulling ratings in the twos, despite giving up an hour (and thus losing more revenue) and a brand that was having to give away numerous ad spots as "make goods" (ad execs often sell commercials with promises of certain ratings. If those ratings are not met, they get freebies or reduced rates to make up for it. Ad execs sold a ton of WCW Nitro time based on previous ratings and consequently had less and less ad time to sell at "full price.").


    Blaming Kellner is like giving someone a 20 year old dog that is on it's last breath and getting pissed when they don't rush it to the vet for emergency surgery when they already own 10 other healthy dogs.

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  30. Nope. I appreciate your attempts to cloud the issue, but he wanted the channels to reflect his vision. THE END

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  31. You'd be wrong.

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  32. Everyone that says that WCW was losing $62 mill when it closed are looking at very fuzzy math. For instance, most of the ad revenue that was paid for Nitro doesn't get credited to them, it gets credited to the network. They also never saw a dime for all of the advertising from other turner stations. Its not like Raw where they have a deal in place from USA. Nitro was owned by the channel.

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  33. That's what it seemed. Crockett Promotions was dying when Turner bought it in the first place because he was a fan. Once Turner was gone, there wasn't that type of support for wrasslin.

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  34. I admit bugged me when reading "Death of WCW" that they spend 200 pages talking about this being the most ineptly run company in wrestling history but then saying that if not for Kellner, they'd still be in business. The one thing that kept them going so long was the backing of Turner and once he was removed from power by the AOL merger, WCW's days were numbered.

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  35. I do love the line on that "Monday Night War" series where they talk about all the big guys weren't going to show up so the Invasion became "WWE invaded by Thunder."

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  36. This often gets cited as the reason behind it, but I think it was actually just a side effect of the real purpose. WCW had a ton of their roster on per appearance deals because of all of the cost cutting between 91 and 94 -- moving contracts to Turner's books was the only thing that allowed them to sign big money guys to begin without maxing out their budget. I think probably once the business got hot, it just became a nice little established loophole for them.

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  37. I don't think it was a fool's errand necessarily. If they'd stayed on TBS, they could've made a go of it.

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  38. Almost everyone bigger than a per-appearance deal was on Turner's books, not WCW's. That's why Vince constantly harped on WCW playing with Ted's money, because they would have been out of business many years before if the actual WCW division was paying everything.

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  39. kbwrestlingreviewsJune 9, 2015 at 2:11 PM

    Translation: screw logic and common sense. This is what you've decided is right and that's what we're going with.

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  40. Screw logic and common sense when they contradict the facts. Walking around saying 'I think this is what happened' when its not what happened, because your made up scenario makes more sense to you is idiotic. No matter how much you extrapolate on it.

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  41. kbwrestlingreviewsJune 9, 2015 at 2:15 PM

    So let me make sure I've got this straight:

    Jamie Kellner, a guy with a legitimately good track record in entertainment, would have jettisoned WCW from TV if they were making a fortune for his company just because he didn't like them? That doesn't hold up if you think about it for more than two seconds.

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  42. Of course it does if you have any sort of intelligence. And it has happened before. CBS once cancelled Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres and Petticoat Junction. All of which were huge ratings successes. Why? Because the new head of the network didn't want it to be know as the hillbilly network. I know that it makes you feel good to think that the FINGERPOKE OF DOOM! is the cause of Nitro being cancelled, but it wasn't. Corporate restructuring killed WCW. Any other argument is just smarky bullshit.

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  43. kbwrestlingreviewsJune 9, 2015 at 2:24 PM

    Actually I had thought that years and years of mismanagement and horrible business had killed WCW. But I'm sure they would have just carried right along, playing to crowds of a few thousands, then hundreds, then dozens as Nash and Hogan traded the title until they were both in their sixties with Schiavone promising this to be the greatest night in the history of our sport.


    But Kellner didn't like it and that's the lone reason it died. Nothing more.


    Right.

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  44. Glad you finally grasped the truth.

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  45. kbwrestlingreviewsJune 9, 2015 at 2:46 PM

    I did quite a long time ago. About as soon as I read your first response in here.

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  46. So you were just pretending to disagree with me? Strange way to spend your time.

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  47. kbwrestlingreviewsJune 9, 2015 at 3:03 PM

    Actually I was trying to avoid calling you a nitwit who won't accept reality because you seem to want to believe WCW would still be alive today due to one person despite how horribly run they were, but have it your way.

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  48. So you're back to denying reality? Oh well. Do you still think Meng is Samoan?

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  49. Not trying to cloud anything. Just providing middle ground. There is evidence Keller looked down upon wrestling, including quotes and the book I cited. I also pointed how damaged wcw was. Would kellner have kept wcw if it made 1 million a year? Doubtful. But if it was making what it did from 96-98? I think he does. A few may disagree, but ultimately Keller made a decision that tons of tv execs make, regardless of feelings about wrestling. To me blaming Keller is unfair. Call him a dick for being rude to wrestling fans and looking down upon us, but don't blame him for making a decision on wcw that many would make. Branding a network is a big deal and the money generated from the time slot wasn't worth screwing up the brand even with fusient owning the company and footing production costs.

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  50. kbwrestlingreviewsJune 9, 2015 at 3:17 PM

    I knew I recognized you from somewhere! Thank goodness. I was scared there were two people like you out there.

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  51. Yeah, I've pointed out stupid shit you've said a bunch of times.

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  52. kbwrestlingreviewsJune 9, 2015 at 3:32 PM

    You never stop making me smile chum. Keep at it.

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  53. Except that it has been clearly stated MANY times that NO Turner channel was going to air WCW. So that would make it hard to keep it on TBS.

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  54. Selling the WCW assets to Vince for as little as they did was a ridiculously short sighted thing to do. Even if you didn't want to have wrestling on your channel why the hell would you throw away hours of DVD footage you could sell for years to come?

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  55. If that's the case, about the only way WCW would have survived is if Bischoff discovered Cena before Vince.

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  56. The whole idea of DVDs as the new dominant format (and as an archival tool for entire seasons or series of shows) wasn't really off the ground by 2001.

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  57. I don't think Bisch learned they'd just be buying the WCW brand until talks were properly under way, did he?

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  58. WCW never put any of their home video releases on DVD, and had stopped selling PPVs on VHS about a year before they closed.

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  59. Hogan's deal directly with TBS was partly creative accounting and partly because they were sold on doing more with him than just wrestling - "Thunder In Paradise", more crap movies, etc. I have never heard of anyone else having a direct TBS deal (not even Savage, whose deal more or less paid for itself because Savage brought the Slim Jim contract with him). There's a reason WCW itself lost so much money in 1999 & 2000.

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