Can Hulk Hogan Power WrestleMania XXX Past 2012's Record Highs?

Apr 5 2014, 8:38am CDT | by

Can Hulk Hogan Power WrestleMania XXX Past 2012's Record Highs?
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

WrestleMania XXX has taken over New Orleans this week, and a host of events lead up to Sunday’s night of wrestling in the Superdome. WWE’s annual mega event is a big deal not just for wrestling fans, but for the local economy that might see a $100 million surge in visitor spending and the gamblers who hope to grow rich on the night’s action.

There’s also plenty on the line for WWE, and a lot of it comes down to Hulk Hogan’s popularity. Hogan hasn’t played much of a role in the in-ring build-up of this weekend’s action, but he may be the night’s most important player because, when it comes to WrestleMania, the casual fan is key.

Just consider that last year WWE took home revenue of $67 million, or about 16% of its total gross, from pay-per-view buys. WrestleMania alone was accountable for $28 million, or more than 40%, of that revenue stream; the 11 other PPV events averaged around$3.5 million each. That April surge in PPV buys is, in large part, the result of not-so-serious fans returning to the fold for WWE’s version of the Super Bowl.

And thus WWE caters to those casual fans, having previously turned to celebrities like Mr. T and Lawrence Taylor. The only way that this year’s event can hope to match or surpass the records set by 2012′s WrestleMania 28 (more on that in a bit), is Hulk Hogan’s star power. To really understand why, we need to first look back on recent history.

WWE has been a publicly traded company since October 1999, but for the first few years the company didn’t clearly break out its WrestleMania pay-per-view buys. So far as I can tell, WWE only began providing hard numbers in 2004, when some 886,000 fans bought WrestleMania XX. Over the next few years, those WrestleMania buys climbed to a then-record 1.2 million in 2007.

The WrestleMania buy rate then gradually fell to a six-year low 900,000 in 2010, after which it rebounded. Two years of strong growth – including a record 1.3 million buys in 2012 – was followed by a slight dip last year.

The same pattern holds for revenue associated with pay-per-view buys. WWE has only broken out its WrestleMania pay-per-view revenue since 2007, when it took home $24.6 million on the then-record 1.2 million buys. That income dropped to a low of $20.5 million in 2010, and bounced back to a record $30.1 million in 2012:

The most obvious reason for the dip in viewership from 2007 to 2010 is the economic recession. In short, people who suddenly found themselves out of work were far less inclined to drop $60 on a wrestling pay-per-view event.

But that doesn’t explain how viewership managed to hit an all-time high while unemployment was still at 9%, or why it then dropped off in 2013 despite an improved economy. Those changes are easily explained, however, by what WWE was putting in the ring.

The main event of 2010′s WrestleMania 26 was a bout between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker, a rematch from the previous year’s WrestleMania that had Michaels’ career on the line. It was an exciting match, especially for fans who had followed the story over the previous year, but it ultimately featured two guys who had been at every WrestleMania since 2003. That year’s 900,000 PPV buys were the fewest for a WrestleMania since 2004.

Compare that to the following year. WrestleMania 27′s main event was a pretty weak showdown between The Miz and John Cena, yet the event’s PPV buys jumped more than 20% to 1.1 million. The key difference? Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, who returned after seven years away from the ring to play guest host (and then interfere in the main event). It was a factor of star power. The dedicated fans were going to tune in one way or the other, but the return of The Rock, a childhood favorite of many former or casual fans, was clearly enough to boost viewership.

That importance of star power also explains how WrestleMania 28, with its main event between The Rock and Cena, arguably the two biggest stars of their respective generations, wound up setting records for PPV buys (1.3 million) and revenue ($30.1 million). Given that success, there’s little question why WWE brought The Rock back the following year for another main-event match against Cena. The staleness of the showdown probably played a role in viewership dropping a tick last year, but the $28 million in pay-per-view revenue is still WWE’s second-highest all-time.

This year, Hulk Hogan has made a triumphant return to WWE as WrestleMania’s guest host, the role The Rock played back in 2011. Hogan helped usher in the WrestleMania era, having competed in the main event of eight of the first nine WrestleManias. Hogan isn’t on the card this time around – though there are three mystery entrants in the battle royal – but “his presence will be felt,” according to Paul Levesque, who wrestles as Triple H and also oversees WWE’s talent and live events. WWE ought to hope so, because Hogan is the key to drawing in the casual fans who aren’t joining WWE’s new subscription network.

Follow @ChrisSmith813

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Fareed Zakaria faces fresh plagiarism charges
Washington, Aug 20 (IANS) Indian-American journalist Fareed Zakaria, who two years ago got away from a plagiarism controversy claiming he made a "terrible mistake", is facing fresh plagiarism charges from anonymous internet watchdogs.
 
 
Ukraine seeks combined IMF aid tranches
Kiev, Aug 20 (IANS) Ukraine Wednesday voiced hope that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will consider a possibility of combining the third and fourth tranches of its aid programme for Kiev.
 
 
Investments pouring in from Singapore: Bengal minister
Singapore, Aug 20 (IANS) Camping here to woo investors, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra Wednesday said many companies have signed joint ventures and letters of intent promising to pump in at least Rs.1,200 crore in his state.
 
 
111-year-old Japanese officially declared world's oldest man
Tokyo, Aug 20 (IANS/EFE) Sakari Momoi, a 111-year-old Japanese citizen, was Wednesday officially recognised in Tokyo as the oldest man in the world by the Guinness World Records award committee.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

43 killed in fresh clashes in Ukraine
Kiev, Aug 20 (IANS) At least 43 people, including 34 civilians, were killed in fresh clashes in eastern Ukraine over the last 24 hours, authorities said Wednesday. Nine government troopers were killed and 12 others...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
INS Sahyadri reaches Philippines to enhance naval ties
Manila, Aug 20 (IANS) The Indian Navy's INS Sahyadri arrived in Manila, Philippines Wednesday and made a courtesy port call to reinforce naval ties, a defence ministry statement said. Navy officials said the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
40 soldiers in Nigeria face execution for mutiny
Abuja, Aug 20 (IANS) Nigeria's Chief of Army Staff Kenneth Minimah has said some 40 soldiers in north-eastern Nigeria, who refused to fight the Islamist Boko Haram group, would be court-martialled and sentenced to...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Wife, workmate charged with Sikh man's murder
Wellington, Aug 20 (IANS) The wife of a Sikh man and her workmate have been charged with murdering him in New Zealand, media reported Wednesday. Gurjinder Singh, 25, and Amandeep Kaur, 31, appeared in the Auckland...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Hamas military head alive as Gaza conflict continues (Roundup)
Gaza, Aug 20 (IANS) Islamist movement Hamas said Wednesday its military wing commander Mohammed Deif is alive and still issuing orders in the fight against Israel in the Gaza Strip, according to media reports. Israeli...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Three policemen shot dead in Yemen
Sanaa, Aug 20 (IANS) Three policemen were killed by unidentified gunmen in Yemen's southern province of Abyan late Wednesday, a government official said. The gunmen with assault rifles opened fire at military police...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
West Indies sever ties with Gibson
St. John's (Antigua), Aug 20 (IANS/CMC) Ottis Gibson's tenure as head coach of the West Indies cricket team has ended and team manager and former captain Richie Richardson will take interim charge for the ODI series...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Windies officials fine-tune plans to host international matches
Kingstown (St. Vincent), Aug 20 (IANS/CMC) Cricket authorities in St. Vincent say they are fine-tuning preparations to host four international matches here next month. The West Indies and Bangladesh will play their...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Nigeria football federation headquarters gutted
Abuja, Aug 20 (IANS) A fire gutted the headquarters of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Wednesday but no one was killed or injured in the incident, an official said. Spokesman of the NFF Ademola Olajire said the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Kipchoge aims at Chicago Marathon course record
Nairobi, Aug 20 (IANS) Kenya's Rotterdam marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge will make another attempt to run under the two hours and four minutes when he lines up at the fast course of the Chicago Marathon slated for Oct...
Read more on Sport Balla