Monday, August 15, 2011

Commercials on PPV? Excuse Me While I Destroy My Living Room in Rage

One of last night's unwanted sponsors
Commercials on a pay-per-view, contrary to popular belief, aren't anything new. We've been seeing them for years. However, they're usually spots that don't really feel like commercials, mainly because they're either advertising an upcoming WWE event, a WWE Films endeavor or a new wrestler, like the spots for, say, Kharma that appeared on PPVs in the early part of this year portended. A lot of times, they're needed to space out set-ups between matches, and more often than not, they've got some value, either in showcasing the excellence that the WWE production department deals in or in the utter unintentional hilarity of the content, which was more the case back in the '90s when really everything the then-WWF did had some modicum of unintentional hilarity to it.

So, why should it matter that there were pre-produced commercials at SummerSlam last night from third party advertisers? Foremost, I feel like it's a matter of principle. Having advertisers pay for spots on the card, especially ones that have run in the past like the godawful Twix commercial, defeats the purpose of pay-per-view. More often than not, the commercials on regular TV are grating, uninformative and bordering on pedantic and overexposed. They're a necessary evil, allowing us to watch weekly televised wrestling for the price of our cable bill. But the point of paying for extra content is that we get nothing but first-run WWE-produced viewing, or at the very least, first-run matches with recap packages that we may or may not have seen before preceding them.

Let's face it. Commercials in general are annoying. It's very rare to find a company like Geico that produces advertisements that are entertaining enough to warrant a break in the action. The only sponsor WWE has right now that produces anything worth watching between segments is Sonic, and even then, I wouldn't want to see them advertising when I pay money to stay away from those kinds of things. It's a slap in the face of the paying customer when they're told they have to pay full price and see that WWE is running spots, assumed at a cost to the advertiser, that they're paying to avoid.

The most reasonable expectation here is that they had to pay Cee-Lo Green, and instead of passing the cost down to the consumer by hiking the price of the event, they probably ran spots. Okay, that makes it a little more palatable until you realize that they probably had to add the commercials to pay for a guy who probably shouldn't have been there in a performing capacity anyway. Seriously, for about twenty minutes, SummerSlam was veritably unwatchable. For an event that actually delivered on nearly every other thing it offered, it was surreal to say the least. Plunk that sequence down on another PPV, like, I don't know, Capitol Punishment, and it would have been unforgivable on the level of using the Avada Kevadra curse, although quite frankly, I find the idea of Kevin Dunn having to share a cell in Azkaban Prison with a gnarled Death Eater tickles me pink.

Seriously, premium content means that you shouldn't have to sit through the insipid pitches for products or movie trailers. For better or worse, WWE pay-per-views are premium content, especially in the last two months and in a general sense over the last two years. I don't want to pay however much I'm paying for a PPV and have to watch the same weaksauce Twix commercial that I have to sit through 20 times a night Mondays during RAW. Quite frankly, I shouldn't have to either.

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