Eric Bischoff On How WCW Competed With Monday Night Football: ‘It Was A Real Feather In Our Cap’
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Some fans tend to attribute WWE RAW’s declining ratings to the success of Monday Night Football but that wasn’t always the case, including when it came to the “Monday Night Wars” era.
On a recent episode of his 83 Weeks podcast, Eric Bischoff discussed how WCW Monday Nitro competed with Monday Night Football. Here are some highlights, including whether he viewed Monday Night Football as competition for WCW Monday Nitro:
“Knowing that we were on Monday night, Monday Night Football is definitely, was and probably still is, a big factor when it comes to television ratings on Monday night. Much of the same demo, males 18-49, that’s always been the target. And so much of that audience, 18-49-year-old males, once football started, moved over. And it was up to us, with Nitro at least, to try to find ways to hold on to as many viewers as we could get and possibly grow the audience during Monday night. And we employed a lot of different things to achieve that.”
“I think about 1997, perhaps ’98, spring of ’98, but I think it was the spring of ’97, during what they call the upfronts, which is where all of the networks, cable and network, all of the cable networks were a little bit different timing than the network upfronts. But around that same period of time, in our case, USA and TNT and TBS and all the other big cable outlets, would put out basically a showcase and say this is going to be our new television season.”
“By spring of 97, we had achieved so much success competing against Monday Night Football, that ABC, who I think held the rights at that time, pretty sure it was ABC, took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal the day that the upfronts opened up, and in that full-page ad, I wish I still had it…there was a big full-page ad that said something to the effect of, and I’m paraphrasing here but, ‘Don’t wrestle with your audience,’ promoting Monday Night Football. But at the same time, they showed that WCW Nitro and WWF, or WWE on RAW occupied probably five out of the top ten hours in primetime on Monday nights. When ABC and the NFL decide they have to take out a full-page ad to counter what we were doing on Nitro, that’s why I kept that ad. It was a real feather in our cap.”