Ten Sports claims excellent ratings for WWE programming

MUMBAI: Fresh off a World Wrestling Entertainment event in India after a gap of six years which met with an excellent response, Ten Sports, which commenced operations in India earlier this year, claims to have stolen a march over arch rival ESPN Star Sports thanks to WWE programming.

Programmes air everyday on the channel with the exception of Sunday at 5 pm and 10:30 pm. The blocks include Raw, Smackdown!, Heat. Quoting TAM ratings for all of India in the c&s 4+ category for the period 20 October to 16 November, the channel claims that average time spent in the time band 5 pm for continous viewing over five minutes is 28 minutes and for the 10:30 pm band is 23 minutes. ESPN's share at 5 pm is three minutes while Star Sports' share is just over five minutes. ESS fares marginally better in the 10:30 pm band with average time spent being 10 minutes, Ten claims.

For continous viewing of over five minutes in the 5 pm band the average reach is 3 per cent for Ten Sports. For ESPN it is a mere 0.5 per cent and for Star Sports it is 1.3 per cent. In the 10:30 pm band the reach increases to 3.3 per cent. For ESPN it is 1.3 per cent and for Star Sports it is 1.8 per cent.

While Ten Sports may be claiming succes in increasing viewer cachet through wrestling, in the US it is on a steady downswing. An Associated Press report states that average viewership so far this season for RAW is 3.1 million households, down 14 per cent from 3.6 million last season, 20 per cent from 2000 and 35 per cent from the 1999 season. The AP report quotes figures from Nielsen Media Research. SmackDown! has suffered a similar decline.

A major reason for the decline could be that fatigue with the excessive soap opera storylines dealing with alleged homosexuality, fake marriages and their ilk has set in. Ratings have also been affected by the fact that top personalities like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock are not there at the moment due to different reasons. In addition, although recent legal problems like a sexual harrasement lawsuit were resolved in favour of the WWE, they generated plenty of negative publicity.

Coming back to Ten Sports. The channel is planning to air live Indian horse racing for the first time on Indian television from this month. 60 races will be spread across 20 weeks. Watch this space for further details.

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