What it means to be a number 2 wrestling promotion
For about a year I've been asking myself what would a number two American pro wrestling promotion look like. Lets be honest, right now there is no number two American wrestling promotion. There has not been a number two since WCW shut down in 2001. As close as we have come was Impact Wrestling in 2007, but it never really got there.
I know some people say that ROH in the number 2 promotion or New Japan Pro Wrestling in the number 2 promotion, but I have to disagree. They are so far behind the WWE, if the WWE split in 4, these promotions would be number 5 and 6 behind the pieces of the WWE. ROH could end up as the number 2 promotion in America, but they still have some distance to go. It is like there is an empty tier of wrestling promotion between WWE and ROH, MLW, and Impact.
The first thing a number 2 promotion is a place where people unhappy with there position with the WWE would have a chance to get higher on the card on the number 2 promotion. I can only think of one time someone jumped from WWE to Impact to improve their standing, Christian Cage. For a real number 2, it has to be a place where people regularly leave the WWE and improve their presentation. In 2016 in Impact had a run of duds like when people like Damien Sandow went and had no impact.
A number 2 promotion needs a TV deal with a cable channels owned by a major company. That means being owned by Comcast, Disney, Viacom, Time-Warner, Fox. Right now only one American promotion is in this category and in 2019 they will be on two of the big five. As much as we want to say this is the streaming video era, television rights deals are still where the money is. It will be this way for the foreseeable future. I do not see this changing before 2030.
International Television distribution is also needed. A number 2 promotion would get at least 20% of their TV rights revenue from non-US television deals. This is needed for a couple of reasons. Non-US fans are needed for international touring and for international fans to travel to big US events.
A number 2 promotion needs to have 50 live events with a total of 250000 ticket sales. These numbers seem kind of small compared to WWE, but much larger than any other company can do in the US right now. Last year ROH sold about 50,000 tickets. A number two promotion also needs two travel events a year where they can sell out a 15,000, without piggy backing on Wrestlemania Weekend.
Not running live shows is one of the ways Lucha Underground stagnated. I think the WWE did a good job of developing NXT by having it tour nation wide. Selling 5000 seats a show would put a number 2 promotion in the same category of buildings NXT run in many places.
This is a tricky thing for a couple of reasons. A young promotion would not have a back catalog to put on a streaming service. That means a new content needs to be created without cannibalizing the above TV rights deal. A service would need 12 live events a year. It would also need 100 hours of new content a year. There are a lot of wrestling companies out there with video. For my roster and in coming wrestlers, I'd license video from smaller promotions. I think promoting indies would be a benefit to a number 2 promotion and it would build the credibly of the new wrestlers on the roster.
A streaming service for a number 2 promotion would have 100,000 US subscribers and 10,000 international subscribers. I know that NJPW World only has 50,000 subscribers and 10,000 inside the US. Acorn TV and Brit box have more than 400,000 each. This is still less than 10% of the subscribers that WWE network has right now.
I would also put the fees higher than the WWE. If you are making a premium product, charge a premium fee. I would tell people I have a better product than the WWE, that is why I deserve more money. In general you need to attract the people who would pay for wrestling before Netflix.
Any number 2 promotion would need to tour outside of North America. In some areas a number 2 promotion would have international partners, like Japan, the UK, and Mexico. For these areas you would have talent exchange and shows with the international partner promotions.
In other areas a number 2 promotion would have to do tours on its own. A number 2 promotion would need to do 5 international shows every year. They can be sold shows or promoted shows. Overtime this would have to get much larger. If you are going to get international TV, you need to do international tours. You do not have to go to the same countries every year, but for fans need to have the chance to see you.
You might think I'm pulling these numbers out of my ass. You are right, I am pulling these numbers out of my ass. They are far short of the WWE, but also much more than any other wrestling promotion. These are the kind of numbers a promotion has to shoot for. Outside of the WWE, no one is close to here.
Let me know if you have better ideas for the numbers we should be looking at here.