April 23, 2008
TV Professional Wrestling And Children
Did you know?
- “Raw is War” (World Wrestling Federation) cable show is watched weekly by 5 million households, making it the highest rated cable television show. (Newsweek, 2000)
- “Smackdown” (WWF) is watched weekly by 5 million households making it the top rated show on UPN. (Newsweek, 2000)
- WWF’s home videos are often ranked number 1. (Newsweek, 2000)
- Both WWF and WCW (World Championship Wrestling) produce 15 hours of wrestling per week attracting 15 million viewers. (U.S. News and World Report, 1999)
- It’s estimated that 15% of the audience for wrestling shows (more than 1 million viewers) is 11 years old or younger. (U.S. News and World Report, 1999)
- World Championship Wrestling reports that 25% of its audience are children and teenagers age two to seventeen. 50% of its viewing audience are men eighteen years and older. (Christian Science Monitor, 1998)
- WWF is one of the first businesses outside of pornography to make a profit on the Internet by offering live video streaming for downloading to home computers. (Newsweek, 2000)
- Wrestling is big business. Sales in 2000 are projected to be $340 million, up from $250 million in 1999. (Newsweek, 2000)
- WWF set a record for a 230% increase in advertising sales in 1999, over the same period in 1998. (Insight on News, 2000)
- Business profits come from advertising, live ticket sales, pay per views, CDs, toys, restaurant, Internet.
- Wrestling delivers a prime target market to advertisers of males ages twelve to thirty-four. (Insight on News, 2000)
- Shows have been noted to be heavy with commercials, with one segment totaling 103 commercials in two hours. (Christian Science Monitor, 1998)
- A year long study (50 episodes, from 2/12/98 to 2/1/99) by Indiana University’s Department of Telecommunication of World Wrestling Federation’s “Raw is War” recorded instances of sexual and violent interactions:
- crotch grabbing or pointing: 1,658 instances
- garbage cans, chairs, tables and brooms used in wrestling: 609
- kicks to the groin: 273
- profane descriptions of people: 158
- obscene finger gesture: 157
- simulated sexual activity: 128
- scantily clad women: 70
- urinating (talking about/appearing to): 21 (New York Times, 1999)
- One third of the viewers of “Raw is War” are seventeen and under. (New York Times, 1999)
- In the Indiana University’s study, the average time of a two-hour telecast devoted to actual wrestling was 36 minutes. (New York Times, 1999)
- Millions of dollars from TV ratings and advertising are at stake as each of the two giants of the television wrestling world, World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) vie for viewership from one of television’s most elusive target audiences: males ages twelve to thirty-four. The winning formula appears to be sex and violence.
- With the American Academy of Pediatrics supporting research that links television violence with increased fear and aggression in children, the question for parents and caretakers is whether these wrestling shows are appropriate for young viewers.
To many adults, these shows represent only over-the-top fantasy with lots of rock music, light shows, and soap opera drama. However, young children often cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality. How do they tell that the lewdness, violence, and sexual aggression they watch are not connected to real life? Children see:
- Racial stereotyping
- Sexual violence
- Inappropriate role models
- That it’s cool and funny to use vulgar language and make crude remarks about women
- That its OK to settle arguments by fighting
- Rude and obscene gesturing
- Simulated sex
Adults realize that every move is scripted. This script is classic soap opera dressed up with enough over-the-top violence and sex to deliver the targeted audience to advertisers. Given the amount of money at stake (hundreds of millions of dollars) in television advertising and merchandizing, the level of violence and sex will only increase to attract and keep viewership.
- Christian Science Monitor, December 18, 1998, p13.
- Insight on News, January 31, 2000, p32.
- Newsweek, “Why America is hooked on wrestling.” February 7, 2000, p46.
- New York Times, February 28, 1999, S4p2.
- U.S. News and World Report, May 17, 1999, p52.