12/8 Wrestlezone Recap: WWE PPV Buyrates Are In, Matt Hardy Hits the “Finish Line” in Pro Wrestling, PWG Matt Rushmore Review Plus New Features, WWE/Impact Wrestling Discussion & We Answer Your Questions
WWE has published earnings information for early quarter four [Q4], including buyrates for their October Battleground and Hell in a Cell pay-per-views. Between the both, WWE brought 363 million fans to the table. The number that's really concerning is the Battleground buyrate.
WWE's now defunct Vengeance pay-per-view did an astonishingly bad 121,000 buys in 2011, and just by looking at the chart, Battleground could be somewhere in the 110-115,000 range. While this number is low, it's not altogether unexpected. Vengeance plummeted as one of two WWE events in the month of October in 2011, same as Bragging Rights dropped nearly 100,000 viewers after Hell in a Cell 2010. There's a history of running multiple events in the month of October, and unfortunately, a history of bad buyrates that accompany them.
As it stands, WWE is not expecting this year's Survivor Series pay-per-view to do well either, which doesn't bode well for the final Q4 numbers. The show did fine in 2011 with the in-ring return of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson propping up the card, even if numbers weren't as high as expected. Given the drop in total buys over the past few years, they were lucky it wasn't worse. Last year CM Punk and Ryback were given the main event, with John Cena added in an attempt to boost the score, but the Series predictably dropped by over 70,000 viewers.
The point in all of this is that the blame for a low Battleground buy cannot fall on the shoulders of Daniel Bryan or Randy Orton, who fought for the vacant WWE Championship. Or, at least not all of it.
Hell in a Cell, which featured the same main event, but inside the steel structure and with Shawn Michaels as the referee, actually did better this year than it did in 2011 and 2012. The key is that HBK is a draw, much like Brock Lesnar and Triple H were big draws for SummerSlam in 2012. SummerSlam '13 fell drastically without a special attraction. But WWE can no more blame Bryan and Orton than they can CM Punk and John Cena, who perform every single night; the crowd is familiar with them, and sees them each week on FREE television.
An exception could be made for the upcoming unification match between John Cena and Randy Orton at TLC. This will be the last chance WWE gets to pop the buyrates for Q4. At the rate they are going, 2013 will most definitely surpass 2012 overall in Q4, but it's going to be a lot more difficult to do better than 2011. While having multiple events in October nets less money for the less popular of the two, having four shows in Q4 as apposed to three yields an obvious gain overall. They need only 289,000 buys between Survivor Series and TLC to break even with 2012, but a more daunting 433,000 to match up with 2011.
TLC needs to both out-draw Survivor Series, which it has never done in the past, but estimating a loss for November, we're looking at between 240-250,000 buys needed to have the best Q4 in three years. John Cena and Randy Orton might be capable of producing that, if enough people believe WWE will actually follow through with a legitimate finish to the match. They haven't done themselves any favors with all the screwy finishes involving Bryan, Orton, Big Show and The Authority. Unification matches are a big deal, and the TLC match is likely what they'll need to draw huge numbers. Only time will tell, of course, but it's not likely.