Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ROH Sale Thoughts

The second biggest news from the weekend was the sale of ROH to the Sinclair Broadcast Group with the intention that the buyer would produce a new television program for syndication. After the initial buzz died down, the big question was "is this a big deal or not?" I tend to think it is. The sale really doesn't have a lot going for it right now. SBG is not a household name for one. I had to do a double take and look them up to find that they're not a network so to speak, but a company that owns local affiliates, mostly for former My Network TV stations, the CW and Fox. On the surface, that's a good thing. Getting ROH on network TV, even if it's only in syndication, gives it penetration that HDNet couldn't dream of giving it...

...until you look at the fact that SBG's market coverage is spotty at best. It's absent from New York, Los Angeles/Southern California, Chicagoland, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay, Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix just to name a few of the large markets SBG has no presence in. It's unclear whether they have an expansion plan to get into bigger markets on actual television, but for now, insofar as getting more eyes on the product? It's not going to be as effective as they might hope.

However, there is one thing that I think might help defray that initial lack of market coverage, and that's the Internet. ROH will be taking the lead of NWA Hollywood and will stream each episode through their site (and given that Dave Lagana is a behind-the-scenes guy for both companies, that's not surprising). Doing that before they had a TV deal would have been costly, but now that SBG is going to foot the bill for the tapings? It becomes a no-brainer. NWA Hollywood is only broadcast on one terrestrial station as far as I know, so given that ROH will be on between 20-30 will at least bring in more advertising revenue to help defray the costs (which will most likely be minimal) of streaming it online.

So just like that, ROH is now ready to get back into the television game and is already in better position than what they were in on HDNet, ESPECIALLY if there's some kind of advertising push put behind it, well, something more than a Twitter/social media campaign or viral advertising that is. I partially blame the HDNet program's failure on an absurd lack of advertising, which coupled with HDNet's pathetic market penetration, did it in.

Now, I know I intimated that I'd lay off the business side of things, but that was a bit too much to ignore at this point. Still, this has to mean something for the quality of the fed, right? Yeah, I think it does, but how it'll affect the company won't be known until they actually start taping programs later on in the summer. My biggest problem with the HDNet show from a content standpoint was that it always felt like it was just unimportant window shopping for the house show and DVD business. The matches were good at times, yes, and they did have the Television Championship and Future Stars tournaments, but other than that, it felt incomplete, like they would focus on one feud for the next big house show or iPPV in the promos and build-up, but the matches wouldn't reflect it in there. And don't tell me it was because they only had one hour. I'd bet that the HDNet show had more total run time than NWA Hollywood's current KDOC show, but the latter does so much with that hour that it's a cohesive, made-for-television show. When you're WWE, and you have RAW and Smackdown to advance angles, you can afford to have a show like Superstars. When you're ROH, you can't.

If they're going to try and do TV, they need to go all-in with it. They need to make the most of what they have and develop angles that play for TV and play to build up the iPPV events. It's the Teens now. While I can watch wrestling for wrestling's sake, I always like to know that the company has some kind of story to accompany most of their matches. The days of house shows-as-driving-model are over. If they want to revolutionize pro wrestling, they need to do it on TV. Show a wider audience that you don't need to emulate 1998 WWF to make good TV. Show that professional wrestling is still alive. Are they up to the task? I hope so, and I remain somewhat optimistic, especially if Lagana has any kind of input on how things run.

Now, I'm optimistic but realistic. There are a lot of red flags with this, including ones raised by Eric Gargiulo and K. Sawyer Paul. However, the fact that they're on TV and now have a much better market penetration with the Internet-broadcasting included than they did before is still a positive in my book. If you get the product out there, then people will find it, and it can grow. Hopefully, ROH's luck is better this time around.

Remember you can contact TH and ask him questions about wrestling, life or anything else. Please refer to this post for contact information. He always takes questions!

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