The WWE's aversion to building new stars has been a problem plaguing the promotion for years. And between the coronavirus pandemic shutting down WWE's touring schedule, certain stars like Roman Reigns and Becky Lynch being out of action and the record-low ratings in recent weeks, the need to push new talent to the top of the card has never been higher. In the company's recent Annual Shareholder's Meeting, Vince McMahon directly addressed that issue.
"Sure, I mean you want to continue to build stars no matter what time. It is so, as Paul [Triple H] just mentioned about NXT talent," McMahon said [h/t Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics]. He has done an extraordinary job of creating new stars, and as they continue to evolve, they'll continue to come up to Raw and Smackdown. So there's this influence of new superstars coming into both Raw and Smackdown, and in addition to that, the ways that we now promote talent in a more effective way, [with] digital and social media, as opposed to the normal way. We do not have a live audience and of course that to us is paramount. They're like the third performer in the ring, in terms of our interaction with our audience. So nonetheless it is a good time to continue with the digital and social imprint and this land grab that we have, which is substantial. We continue that, and again new stars coming up."
McMahon also addressed the sinking ratings for shows like Raw and SmackDown.
"We have a 30-plus year track record of creating compelling characters and engaging a variety of audiences, and we obviously remain confident we can continue that with our collective ability, even in the most challenging environments with no live audience," McMahon said. "The media echo system obviously has changed. We change with it. Our engagement metrics across platforms are understandably and obviously — however, the importance of linear programming is paramount in all of our businesses — we consistently have seen year-over-year increases in a variety of digital metrics and engagement. And positive trends have continued, even during COVID."
"Conversely, TV viewership trends have been negatively impacted by COVID, obviously, and the lack of a live audience," he continued. "We are still nonetheless the number-one television show on USA [Network] and consistently the number-one broadcast show on Fridays among key demos. We expect a combination of valuable promotional inventory from our TV partners with the return of sports events programming."