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Eric Bischoff wanted to show big-ticket advertisers that working with WCW was a good opportunity.
WWE Hall of Famer Eric Bischoff is no stranger to the business side of pro wrestling. During a recent episode of AdFreeShows.com’s Strictly Business podcast, Bischoff discussed being privy to the importance of television advertising in the wrestling business while he was at the helm of WCW. When he first got his start, selling syndication was a big deal. Networks would take wrestling programs because they drew enough of a rating to fulfill commitments to advertisers. However, there was a shift in the 90s.
“Syndication became less of an issue even in WWE probably by the early to mid-90s. The syndication world was kind of collapsing and everything was cable. About that time is when I really took over WCW,” Bischoff said. “Now, I had exposure to the ad world business previously because I was in syndication, it’s part of it, but really focusing on trying to get ad sales up and what we could do to increase traditional advertising, not opportunistic buys, but one of the reasons I did the deal with Randy Savage was because of Slim Jim.”
“Slim Jim was a national advertiser, it wasn’t an opportunistic bottom feeder like some were. It was a fairly attractive—I wouldn’t say blue chip advertiser—but one that advertised 52 weeks a year and had a significant budget. I bent over backwards for Slim Jim not because—well, yes, of course, I wanted to keep the clients happy, that’s part of doing business—but I wanted to make an example out of them in a good way. I wanted to show other potential big-ticket advertisers that weren’t opportunistic buyers that we’re paying, if not premium CPMs, mid-level CPMs because that would dramatically affect WCW’s business if I could achieve that.”
Bischoff said it took a long time because wrestling has a stigma. He also pointed out his leeriness about companies that excessively use blood as that pushes the business back into an opportunistic category. Despite that, WWE has gotten to the point where their ad rates are at least mid-level, if not blue chip.
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