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Best For Business (6/17/15): WWE Dominating Twitter, KO Dominating Cena and Brock




What a wild three months it's been since Seth Rollins stole the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.

We've seen ultra fan-favorite Daniel Bryan getting knocked out of action indefinitely with ongoing nerve issues, Brock Lesnar getting suspended (and, as of last Monday, subsequently unsuspended), Kevin Owens shooting to the top of the wrestling world with a shocking debut win against reigning US Champion John Cena, Tyson Kidd getting sidelined for at least a year with a spinal injury, AJ Lee retiring, Samoa Joe finally making his long-awaited debut on WWE programming (and teasing us all with his recent house show staredown with Finn B├ílor), Sheamus debuting a wild new look and persona to claim the Money in the Bank briefcase, Ryback finally claiming his first ever championship gold, and beloved WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes passing away, just to name a few.

But throughout this hellacious roller coaster ride of storytelling, we of course need to ask—is all of this Best For Business? 

Let's take a look at two things today: The WWE Twitter TV ratings, and the WWE Shop merchandise sales chart.

TV Ratings Are Down—But That's Okay





We'll get this out of the way—the June 15th edition of RAW rebounded nicely from last week's go-home show for Money in the Bank. Absolute live viewership came out to 4.114 million homes, up 13% from 3.645 million the previous week. It was the most-watched show on cable for the night—hey, bragging rights still matter—due to the fallout from MITB, and the surprise return of Brock Lesnar.

But let's take a step out of the increasingly irrelevant chatter on declining TV ratings. We get it, your average RAW TV rating these days of 3.5-4.0 doesn't come anywhere near what it used to pull during the Attitude Era. We'll probably never see a segment pull an 8.4 rating again, like the classic "This Is Your Life" segment between Mick Foley and The Rock.

But that's not a WWE problem. That's a TV problem in general. In a reality of streaming on-demand content, a la carte downloads, and DVR, the classic metric of measuring what percentage of TV viewers are watching a specific show at a specific time is becoming increasingly non-reflective of our actual viewing behavior. Everyone is feeling the pinch; everyone is trying to adapt.

A more interesting way to measure things is the Nielsen Twitter TV ratings, which tracks the actual online chatter people generate as they watch. In other words, which shows are doing a better job in moving people enough to actually react on Twitter, rather than watch passively?

And based on the Twitter TV ratings, the WWE is hitting slam dunk after slam dunk.


Based on unique authors—which is the absolute number of people tweeting about RAW—over twice as many people tweeted about the show versus the previous week, and even more surprisingly, more people tweeted about RAW than they did about MITB the night before.





In terms of absolute volume of tweets, it's a similar story, as 211,000 total tweets were generated for the show, just behind the amount generated by Money In The Bank, and nearly 50% more than the previous week's RAW. 



You could argue though that last week's RAW viewer was a lot more involved than this week's viewer, generating an average of four tweets per user versus just three tweets each this week.

But these fewer tweets per user were more efficient at creating reach, as they hit nearly three million additional unique viewers, or nearly as much as both last week's RAW and Money In The Bank combined.




Think about it. RAW may have scored four million people watching it live, but the people watching it were stoked enough to tweet about it an average of three times each, hitting an additional three million people, and potentially making them curious enough about the product to either tune in for themselves, do their own research on it, or interact with the tweet author.

In effect, that was enough to allow RAW to take the number one spot on the Nielsen Twitter TV ratings for series and specials, outpacing such popular mainstream franchises as The Bachelorette and So You Think You Can Dance.




In a world where social media is king, it looks like the WWE continues to do all the right things. Do they have as big an audience today as they used to? No, they don't. But for all the derision the Internet Wresting Community gets, let's recognize it for what it is—a passionate, highly-engaged fanbase who is more vocal, opinionated, and expressive about what they watch than most other fans out there.


A New King of Merchandising?




The WWE Shop doesn't report its actual volume or value of sales on a piecemeal basis, but they do allow you to rank merchandise based on popularity. We sent our Smark Henry House Elf over to sift through the most recent merchandise chart, and here's a countdown of the top ten hottest merchandise in the WWE as of today.


10.
9.



8.

7.



6.

5.

4.

3.



2.


1.

...okay, that's a lot of Kevin Owens merch on the list.

Not only is our prizefighting buddy tops with his sweet new KO logo shirt, he has a total of four items in the top ten. Not even Brock's swank new Suplex City shirt could beat him out for the #1 spot. And the only reason John Cena is even on the list is because his yellow "Never Give Up" shirt is deeply discounted to just $7.99 from the usual $24.99. For now, let's give Kevin Owens a moment to bask in the knowledge that he is dominating both Cena and Brock in at least one other field. 



Lots of love, too, for Dean Ambrose, with the Lunatic Fringe continuing to find favor with both his DA logo shirt and "Unstable" sweater selling well, while both Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe continue to be hot sellers as well.

Now we know that there isn't always a direct correlation between merchandise sales and who the WWE chooses to push, but following the logic behind this list—these are the names fans are literally buying into today—we wouldn't mind a top five of Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, John Cena, and Samoa Joe trading blows for the next five years.

We do have one thing to say though: Poor Seth Rollins. His shirt isn't even in the top ten. Maybe if the WWE would come up with a Seth-branded selfie stick, that would create a sensation... #IYKWIM


*****

We're nearly at the midyear point for the WWE, and it looks like there's a lot of excellent momentum across multiple fronts—talent development, fan engagement, and storyline booking. They're coming off of the biggest revenue-generating quarter in their history, and continue to aggressively push the WWE Network. 

As much as people argue about the quality of booking or the recent rash of injuries, the fact of the matter is that the WWE continues to be excellent in three things: getting people talking, building up hot new stars, and making money.

And really, at the end of the day, that is what's Best For Business.

*****

Mark De Joya (@MDJSuperstar) is an advertising professional and brand strategist by day, but dreams of being the Vince McMahon of the Philippines by night. He writes anything to do with numbers for Smark Henry: People Power, our weekly fan survey, and Best For Business, our regular financial report. With 18" arms and a 300-pound squat, he is also the official bouncer of the Smark Henry offices. 

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