For Eric Bischoff, analytics or numbers have been a big part of his career. The 83 weeks where he conquered WWE in the ratings have become his claim to fame. In speaking with After 83 Weeks, Bischoff talked about reading analytics and how it has changed.
"I have not been able to dive into WWE analytics yet," Bischoff stated. "A lot of this information is available to the public if you are interested in finding it. The big difference between now and late 90's, a lot more women make up the audience. Men as an audience are easier to get, women and kids are a much harder segment of the audience to find. Back then it was 75 to 90 percent male and maybe 15 to 20 percent female. The general age group was 35 and up. Now, you have a much younger overall audience and at least 50 percent is female. That is a much more valuable audience composition."
With social media being a platform where everyone can publish an opinion, some people feel that focus groups and analytics are no longer useful. Bischoff dispels that notion and chalks it up to having a feel for the business.
"No, not at all, that would be a huge mistake," Bischoff opined. "Here is the challenge with research, it can be misleading if you do not know how to interpret it. If you know your product, know your audience and have a feel for what you are doing. You know your data and have a feel for what you are doing."
Analytics can work against a company as well. Bischoff recalled a time in WCW where Turner wanted to fire a group of wrestlers for doing their jobs, based off what focus groups stated.
"It might have been around 1992 when WCW decided to do a bunch of focus groups and research," Bischoff recalled. "They knew nothing about the business, they were interpreting the wrong focus groups, there was no methodology. To make it worse, the people in Turner Broadcasting had no idea how to interpret it. It was a list of all the characters the audience said they loved, they were all babyfaces. The people the audiences hated were heels. Turner said, 'We got to fire all the people they hate.'" And it was like, 'We are trying to make them hated, you knuckleheads.'
"That's when I realized putting data in the hands of the wrong people is like giving a four-year-old a loaded gun, it's just dangerous."
You may listen to the full episode above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit After 83 Weeks with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.