Trading places with Sisyphus …
“If you want a job done right …”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’m the only one who could do this task. Heck, I honestly don’t think I can do it at all. At least, not yet. What task is that, you’re asking? Increasing the viewership of Ontario Championship Wrestling (OCW).
We’re many years since the last “golden age” of wrestling. According to WrestlingData.com, the highest attendance at a Canadian professional wrestling event in 1998 (in the midst of the last “golden age”) was in Vancouver, British Columbia on December 13. The fans were there for a combined World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, although then it was still the World Wrestling Federation (WWF)) Sunday Night Heat TV and In Your House 26: Rock Bottom Pay Per View broadcast. It boasted 17,677 fans in attendance. In comparison, just last year, the highest attendance at a Canadian professional wrestling event was on March 1st in Toronto, Ontario, for a WWE Raw TV broadcast, where 9,500 fans attended. That’s a 46 percent decrease in just fifteen years.
So how is OCW, a small company with an even smaller budget for its events, supposed to garner more attention? Events in Kingston, OCW’s home city, routinely draw between 65 and 75 people, and most of them are familiar faces. Events in other cities and towns have been held, with a small measure of success, but there isn’t much cross-over of fans from one area to another. Thos of us who work for OCW don’t see many of the fans we’re getting used to seeing in Deseronto at our Kingston shows, and vice versa. As for our Kingston shows, we’re also seeing less and less new faces, despite all our efforts to attract new fans.
The only resources we have are a Facebook group and posters. Twitter is going to be added soon, but I for one am skeptical of its potential as a marketing tool in this situation. With Facebook, we reach mostly wrestlers, with a handful of fans. In fact, many of the people who have joined the group aren’t even from Kingston, or even Canada. They’re simply following what’s happening with the company through the internet. As for the posters, we have tried both a blanket approach, with many posters reaching as many eyes as we possibly can, and a more focused approach, paying particular attention to the more populated areas that feature the kind of people we’ve seen at our shows, attempting to maximize views of the posters, while having to print less posters (and thus, save money.) Neither postering approach seems to have worked, so we’re at a bit of an impasse.
So where do we go from here? Will Twitter turn out to be a valuable advertising tool for us? Our attempts at maintaining an updated YouTube presence has stumbled but also historically haven’t produced much in the way of results. Sponsors for the events would be nice, but with the industry in a slump, it’s hard to sell the benefits to local business. Do we decide to remain content, as a market follower, and hope that the WWE finds something that will cause another renaissance in the business, or do we continue to see what we can do to forge our own path? Only time will tell what happens, but in the meantime …
… I’m open to any and all suggestions.