When it comes to Impact Wrestling right now, the live streaming video platform Twitch is all the buzz as far as how fans are watching the product online and future possibilities with growth and global reach. Let’s just be honest, Twitch is currently providing much more exposure and excitement than the Pursuit Channel is by a country mile. I’m not saying that Pursuit is incapable of growing its Impact audience and becoming a decent TV home for them in the U.S., but we haven’t heard much feedback when it comes to watching the show on Pursuit. The little bit of feedback that we have heard is that the Pursuit channel may be censoring out basic swear words on Impact that are usually acceptable by FCC standards on nearly all basic cable TV shows that aren’t like kids cartoons, for instance. While I haven’t been able to 100% confirm this censoring (not sure why someone would lie in this case), if it is true, then why would an edgier product be handcuffed by that kind of restrictive policy on its home network? It’s extremely difficult to fathom that Anthem would agree to that type of language censoring. Are these two groups just not on the same page with this situation? I hope it’s not true and if it is, that it gets fixed ASAP.
I can confirm that there have been some significant audio issues on the Pursuit version of Impact. Fans are reporting that the crowd noise and everything else except the commentary team is turned up WAY too loud, to the point where you can barely hear Josh and Don. Come on Pursuit Channel! Get your shit together! I know they’re a small network but this is unacceptable. I don’t want to turn this into a Pursuit bash session but it’s almost like the people at that network haven’t got the memo about Impact Wrestling being a large, important part of their TV lineup. Perhaps they’re even naive regarding something as simple as what kind of program Impact actually is. They also have basically no social media presence at all and what they do have for a Twitter account is on life support. The obscure Pursuit has had almost a month to work out these kinks since the announcement of Impact coming aboard. I could name other problems and dislikes about Pursuit here but I won’t for now. It is what it is, but maybe there needs to be a “come to Jesus” type of talk between Anthem and Pursuit? If not, this collaboration could be heading in a disappointing direction very quickly. When Impact’s shrewd and applauded philosophy of having a more adult tone doesn’t align with their main U.S. TV network, that is a problem. Hopefully it’ll be solved sooner than later. In the meantime, maybe everyone should just watch the show on Twitch since Impact isn’t being censored on that broadcast and the audio has been just fine so far.
Would it have been nice to land a bigger TV network in the U.S. to showcase Impact? Yes, obviously that would have been preferable but supplementing a niche, unknown channel like Pursuit with such an accessible outlet like Twitch is very savvy and a fantastic “Plan B”. Since the announcement was made at HomeComing, Impact and their vocal fans have been shouting from the rooftops that if you have the Internet, then you have Twitch. It’s really that simple and it is really that convenient. Word will continue to spread and if the actual wrestling product itself continues to be as great as it has been lately, then more and more people will be watching on a weekly basis. If you want to view Impact Wrestling as the show initially airs on Friday nights, you can do that anywhere around the world now in real time. A couple of things to keep in mind though, in spite of how fantastic this Twitch deal is:
- Even though Twitch is exceptionally accessible, it is still appointment viewing. They are running one initial Impact airing that does not have immediate Video On Demand or DVR type of options currently for new episodes (You can DVR on Pursuit so that is one advantage over Twitch). Twitch actually does have a nice little VOD library for other past events and content. Appointment viewing is becoming less and less common. Also, the Twitch viewership numbers that are visible as the show is airing only represents the audience watching live at that moment. Not everyone is watching the entire two hours and there are a lot of people cycling in and out during that 2 hour time frame.
- Friday nights are going to be tricky to get a consistent audience every single week. People do social things outside of watching wrestling on Friday nights like go out to the bar or go to a movie or a sporting event or on a date or whatever. For me, it works perfectly because it’s the one night of the week that I stay up late on a regular basis and I’m usually home. I’m a typical example of the dedicated Impact fan that will watch on 90% of Friday nights, but that’s not going to work for everyone who potentially would want to watch but cannot for whatever reason from 10 pm to Midnight EST. There was a drop-off in viewership on Twitch from Week 1 to Week 2 but I still maintain that the numbers will grow over time with some degree of fluctuation from week to week. I would be shocked if a month from now that the live viewership isn’t improved quite a bit. You’re asking people (some older with not as much technology insight) to find the show on a new night and either a new network or, in some cases, a completely foreign app. That’s going to take time to get people who watch Impact into a new habit again and situated after yet another switch in schedule and channel/format. They will get there eventually.
Impact is essentially taking the viewers that have been going to other sites out there which were showing a live hacked stream version of the show and are now putting it on their own stage on which they can receive some ad revenue. It’s been a well-known secret for many years that those particular sites (and I’m not going to name them but we all know who they are) were getting thousands and thousands of views each week for Impact’s shows with the company itself seeing nothing in return for it besides more people keeping up on their product. Now, Impact will know more accurately how many fans are watching the show on Twitch as it airs and will get compensation for it. They’ve made it clear that they want to have a sizable subscription base for Twitch in the next few months and it seems like things are on track for that to happen.
Subscribers like myself that have an Amazon Prime account don’t even have to pay extra, yet it counts towards the number goal that Impact is shooting for at 15,000 (by the end of March as I recall). Just a tip for those of you that are also Amazon Prime members which I found out for myself. After you successfully link your Amazon Prime account with your Twitch account, you need to go one step further and actually follow through on the “subscribe for free” option for Impact’s channel. That gives you one month free as a sub, then, when that 30 days is up, you will have to go back and click that again to re-up. It’s a minor annoyance but it’s one click, once a month so get over it. Also, the desktop version of Twitch is much easier to navigate with that specific process as I found the smart phone version to be somewhat confusing with that extra step. Impact is getting a lot of new subscribers which is important and significant.
I fully expect the weekly viewers on Twitch, as the show originally airs, to increase cumulatively for at least the first few months. That being said, to peak at over 11,000 live viewers a couple of times during the first week was impressive. The longest sustained viewership during that initial show was in the 8,500 plus range. It also exceeded ten thousand a few times depending on the segments. In the 2nd week the longest sustained average was more in the 6,500 range. The peak was approximately 8,600. So, two thousand or so less viewers is definitely something that can easily be made back up and exceeded. They are experimenting with in-commercial exclusive content to lure more viewers and subscribers. This time we only got Josh Mathews from his house. In the most recent edition of Press Pass, Josh mentioned the possibility of wrestlers providing some kind of content during those breaks in the future. Surprisingly, a few of the most popular wrestlers like Jordynne Grace, Sami Callihan, Allie and Rosemary also popped into the built-in chat feature on the app. There’s no doubt that our Twitch Discussion Room here at DiscussPW is troll-free and idiot-free but to each their own, especially if roster members are going to consistently appear (You can do both too, just sayin’). From what I saw and heard, there were some unsavory things popping up in the main Twitch chat and that thing also moves at the speed of light so it’s kind of hard to keep up on.
It’s worth noting that there was initially a very limited amount of time (5 days) to even promote the Twitch availability before the debut. It’s unknown how long that Impact management was planning on committing to air the show on the app as a simulcast before they pulled the trigger. I guess it makes sense to push Pursuit as the initial carrier so that it wasn’t disrespectful to them? As of the time that I’m posting this column, it’s still unclear what the GWN Video On Demand options will be to access new Impact episodes. It has been in the 10 day range previously but there’s a sense out there that we will see that number reduced. Again, different countries around the world have varying GWN times when Impact airs and availability so I’m speaking from my point of view here in the U.S. Whatever ends up happening, it’s clear that Impact is wisely accommodating the cord cutting movement in a manner that it never has before. Cable and satellite providers are still a part of the overall picture for now, but as time goes on they will continue to become more and more irrelevant unless they allow people to choose “a la carte” options of picking and choosing what they want to pay for. So getting ahead of the game when it comes to focusing primarily on streaming and online options is very smart business-wise for Impact Wrestling. Even someone like myself, who has been stuck in my old school ways, is finally taking baby steps towards cord cutting as my cable bill has become outrageously expensive.
Just to give you an idea of how people are now watching Impact, we ran a Twitter poll regarding that topic. Twitch dominated the results.
I’m not usually one for bragging, but we were really ahead of the game here at DiscussPW when it comes to this Twitch stuff. Maybe some random site out there was doing the same thing (I haven’t heard about it if they were) but we were hosting various Twitch events in our dedicated Twitch Discussion Room throughout 2018 and will be for the foreseeable future. TDM deserves major props for creating our Twitch room and being so forward thinking about it. Also, a massive shout-out goes to Jay for making the @ImpactOnTwitch Twitter account. He has put a lot of work into maintaining that account and promoting Impact’s official Twitch platform. They both deserve credit and recognition for being so innovative. DiscussPW has been synonymous with Impact on Twitch and it was fitting that the only relevant Twitter trend that Impact has experienced in the last year happened during that January 11th debut with #ImpactOnTwitch. We have hosted every Impact on Twitch live event that the company has held. We’ve also featured other promotions like House of Hardcore, AAA, CWF Mid-Atlantic, Smash, Hoodslam, Heavy Metal Wrestling and more.
I hate to sound like a broken record but Impact’s management team has delivered again with this Twitch simulcast situation. Ed, Don and Scott have provided assurance in recent interviews and podcasts that Impact is in good shape and that these arrangements with Pursuit and Twitch are beneficial for the company. I would advise Impact fans to stay patient and let things play out for a few months before drawing conclusions and making assumptions. It seems like they may have some kind of ace up their sleeve. Big thanks to RapGameBruceWayne for reminding us this week about the Kings Highway Media deal that Impact announced back on October 11th of 2018. You can read that announcement here if you need a refresher like I did. This is something that I hadn’t taken fully into account when considering the future of how Impact will be distributed moving forward. Yes, there are the numerous TV deals in countries all over the world. The GWN and Twitch apps are also a significant part of things. Their Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts are all vastly improved. Yet it still feels like something bigger is on the horizon with this Kings Highway Media engagement. It could be months from now or a year from now but something else is coming. Pursuit just seems like too much of a stopgap in my opinion. Time will tell but things are definitely not as bad as those dirtsheets want you to believe.