While talking about TNA Against All Odds 2011 on the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff, compared the TNA of 2011 to the AEW of today where both companies were firmly planted as America's number two wrestling promotion.
“AEW does a good job of marketing themselves outside of their television show,” Bischoff said. “TNA had the outlook or perspective that all you had to do was put a television show on the air and people will come. That’s true to a certain degree, but you’ve got to preach outside the choir in your own church to attract a bigger audience or even in a subtle way making your product feel more important to the people that do watch you on T.V. Making that pay per view feel like it’s must see.
“A large part of that is booking and to a large extent that was a failure in TNA and WCW and occasionally in WWE and AEW. There are storylines that are weak but there are also storylines in WWE and AEW that are really compelling that make up for it. Look at some of the stuff AEW has done in the last year and half to promote themselves outside of the people that are watching the show every week. They’ve spent lots of money, TNA wasn’t willing to.”
TNA at the time was averaging over a million viewers per week for Impact, but had trouble converting those views into pay-per-view buys. Bischoff can see parallels with AEW, and is concerned about an apparent lack of growth from AEW outside of their core audience:
“AEW last week they did about 800,000 viewers, they opened the door with 1.5 million viewers and haven’t been able to crack 1 million since or if they have it’s been only on one or two occasions. They’ve essentially flatlined at 7 or 800,000 viewers on average for the last year and a half.
“That’s an observation that could, unless something turns around in the next 18 months, come back to haunt someone like Chris [Jericho - a critic of TNA at the time]. Quite frankly, AEW has flatlined and it’s been that way essentially for a year.”
It is worth noting that viewership numbers today are a far cry from a decade ago, so Bischoff’s remarks should be taken at face value. However, it does ask questions about how wrestling breaks free from its bubble once again.