Counterfeit Pennies: TNA Marketing Flaws Exposed

Last week, TNA went all-in and moved to Monday nights permanently with the (realistic) goal of growing their audience and the (unrealistic) hope that they would cause some serious chinks in the WWE armor.

The good news: TNA didn’t embarrass themselves. They may have had a lower rating on Monday night than they wanted, but the fact that their Thursday replay of Impact doubled their viewership for the week was a sign that they are on the right track towards possibly getting a 2.0 rating on a consistent basis.

The bad news: TNA got lucky with their Thursday replay, and perhaps the reason just as many viewers tuned in on Thursday is because the wrestling fans who actually watched Monday’s live proceedings were able to spread the word about Sting, RVD and Jeff Hardy making their respective arrivals and returns on Impact.

So what does this mean and why is it bad news? It means that TNA had taken three marquee names, kept them under wraps and decided it would be better to “SURPRISE” the TNA audience rather than PROPERLY PROMOTE the product. And this is bad news because it shouldn’t be up to the IWC and the wrestling viewers to convince people what they missed on Monday night. Instead, TNA should HEAVILY advertise this and use these big-time signings and re-signings to their advantage.

To me, the biggest flaw TNA has right now is that they don’t understand the idea of building up a fan-base through efficient promotion that would let the audience they crave know why they should change the channel from USA over to Spike.

Take Jeff Hardy for example. Jeff was the top face in all of pro wrestling in 2009, and for the SECOND time this year, TNA kept his appearance on Impact under wraps. And for the SECOND time this year, Jeff Hardy’s appearance on the show itself was mismanaged.

On January 4th, Hardy showed up during the X Division debacle, where Homicide’s leg got stuck and he couldn’t even get out of the cage properly to confront Jeff. Then, later in the show, they simply show Jeff painting pictures as if he’s Bob Ross and Shannon Moore is his Joy of Painting sidekick.

On last week’s Impact, Jeff was booked to do a run-in during the TNA overrun, but since the live show ran too long the viewers were left with Hardy (after landing some offense) climbing to the top rope as the camera faded to black BEFORE he could execute his Swanton Bomb. This would be the equivalent of WWE fading Raw to black just before Shawn Michaels is about to nail Sweet Chin Music on The Undertaker, something that would NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER happen on Vince McMahon’s watch.

Maybe I’m being too hard on TNA, but in this case I think I am being more than fair. I’ve liked most of what they’ve done with guys like Pope and Wolfe, but until they learn how to market themselves and their big names/matches leading up to weekly TV shows and big PPV events, they will never achieve the ratings growth that they want, let alone compete seriously with WWE.

Around Pulse Wrestling

Mark Allen’s This Week in ‘E’ just might be the most informative and insightful pro wrestling column out there in 2010.

I don’t think TNA will be winning over the likes of my colleague Michael O’Mahony anytime soon. Thankfully, Michael’s TNA rants in this week’s A Fan’s Notes are wildly entertaining, despite the fact that he’s reviewing SmackDown! Here’s an example of Michael’s genius: “TNA should cut its losses before this whole thing becomes as embarrassing as being caught wearing your cap back-to-front.” CLASSIC!

That’s all from me this week…CB

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