Tony Khan Explains Why Unpredictable Matches Are Important To Viewership
Image Credit: IMPACT Wrestling
Perhaps more than ever before, the wrestling world pays close attention to the television ratings for shows like WWE RAW and AEW Dynamite. With the ratings for WWE’s flagship show continually slumping, fans and analysts alike have criticized the repetitive, predictable nature of the product.
In an interview with Variety, AEW President Tony Khan discussed the importance of presenting a show that keeps the viewers guessing. Khan, the co-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC, described how other sports, like the NFL and the NCAA, have thrived in this regard.
“Unpredictable matches help viewership,” said Khan. “You definitely want unpredictability in whatever you’re offering, and that’s one of the key strengths of the NFL.
“Tournaments like the NCAA March Madness offer the premise of unpredictability and see stronger viewership as a result.”
One way that AEW has been able to keep its television content engaging, particularly on Dynamite, has been the company’s working relationships with several other promotions. Collaborating with IMPACT Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling, among others, has allowed AEW to utilize stars from other companies. In fact, some of AEW’s own wrestlers hold titles in these other promotions, and Khan explained how showcasing other titles has helped the company reach further across the industry’s landscape.
“A lot of AEW wrestlers hold belts in other companies,” Khan stated. “It’s great for us, it expands our reach, and it shows what great wrestlers we have.”
Another vital component of presenting a strong television product is the ability to showcase well-known stars. For years, WWE has been criticized for the way it has struggled to build new household names. Khan explained the importance of stars can be seen in their drawing power, but he also made it clear that building new ones takes time.
“You can create stars, but it happens gradually and not overnight,” said Khan. “It’s hard work and a lot of factors have to collide to bring a star about. But the more popular a league is, the easier it is to create more stars, with the NFL a great example.”
Khan’s comments over a compelling comparison between wrestling and other major sports; all of these businesses are driven by profit, and television ratings are often viewed as an easy way to gauge the prominence of a respective sport. As the broadcasting industry continues to evolve, every sport, including wrestling, will have to adapt to meet the changing market, and Khan’s argument about unpredictability offer a few important takeaways.