YouTube recently classified wrestling under a restricted category and this has impacted the ability to monetize video views on the site. With an understanding of keyword tags and search engine optimization, a match that took place in a small rec center might receive hundreds of thousands of views with the right amount of luck and buzz. These views could be monetized and allow a promotion to stay profitable, book more expensive talent and grow. A smaller wrestling company like Beyond Wrestling considers the recent changes to Youtube to be devastating to their business model. What do these changes mean for a company like Ring of Honor?
The first thing to look at is ROH’s strategy in utilizing YouTube. The standard expectation would be that ROH puts their weekly show on Youtube. They do not. You have to go to ROH’s website to view the archives or utilize a platform like Fite.Tv for official viewing. ROH had been willing to trade off whatever revenue would be earned from airings on Youtube for the ads that are shown during their website viewings, the traffic that comes to the website and whatever revenue is derived from Fite.tv. ROH Youtube videos do include Women of Honor matches, Future of Honor, weekly updates, promos for upcoming events and throwback matches. ROH has certainly not been “all in” on the Youtube model. At best, Youtube has been used by ROH as a platform to direct buys of pay per views and live events.
So how much can you actually earn from YouTube? It is hard to say because it is not based upon how many views a video receives but how many people click on the ads. Is wrestling more or less clickable than The Engineering Family or the now infamous PewDiPie? I don’t know. Experts in the field suggest that one can earn about $2,000 per million views. The most popular video currently is a Women of Honor match with just under 1,8000,000 views, earning ROH roughly under $4,000. Not bad for a match that was taped prior to the main card. In aggregate, The Women of Honor have likely been earning ROH several thousand in “found money” just from Youtube per year. This is now going away.
What does that mean for Women of Honor? WOH have had their own specials on the ROH tv show but the WOH division is often on the periphery of the main card . Sinclair is a conservative company with many affiliates in middle America. I am not sure how well women’s wrestling is accepted on the local NBC affiliate, even in 2017. We will have to watch and see how the division is affected.
Lavie Margolin is a Career Coach and author of Mastering the Job Interview. He has been a professional wrestling fan since 1988 and has attended ROH shows regularly since 2004.
All comments here are speculative and for entertainment purposes only and no misrepresentation of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Ring of Honor or related brands is intended. Full disclosure: I am a Sinclair Broadcasting Group (SBG) shareholder.