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Despite NFL Competition, TNA Impact's Ratings Are Going Up

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COMMENTARY | For the second year in a row, TNA Impact is facing stiff competition from the NFL on Thursday nights.

Although TNA is unquestionably one of the most popular professional wrestling promotions in the world, its Thursday primetime show figured to take a ratings bodyslam once the NFL regular season began two weeks ago. However, something strange is happening in living rooms across America. Despite going head-to-head with NFL football, TNA Impact's ratings and viewership have increased over the last two weeks.

On August 29, TNA Impact faced little competition from the abysmal final night of the NFL preseason. That night, Impact drew 1.24 million viewers, for a 1.0 cable rating. The following week on September 5, Impact somehow increased its viewership to 1.31 million viewers, which rounded to a 1.0 cable rating, while 25 million others watched opening night of the NFL regular season. Then on September 12, TNA achieved another ratings increase as 1.39 million people watched Impact instead of NFL football. This time, Impact's cable rating rose to 1.1 for TNA.

Although I am a huge TNA fan, I have to admit that I am surprised by this development. I have been begging TNA to move Impact to Tuesday nights to avoid the NFL juggernaut. Since the NFL began airing weekly Thursday night games in 2012, I have been dreading what kind of "impact" this would have on TNA. If the first two weeks of the NFL season are any indication, it looks as if TNA may hold its own in 2013 after all.

Clearly, the decision to cut back on its pay-per-views and air the previous eight pay-per-views as Impact-themed shows is helping the ratings. TNA billed its last episode of Impact as a No Surrender show. This is one of TNA's old pay-per-views. Wrestling fans clearly like these shows as title changes and other major developments, usually reserved for pay-per-views, are now airing on free television.

This surprising ratings increase also suggests that TNA's wrestling fan base is dedicated and will choose to watch wrestling over the NFL. It also suggests that Impact is drawing new viewers to its broadcasts. Between Twitter, wrestling websites, and online forums, word can spread quickly among fans when there is a hot trend in the business. Wrestling fans are clearly tuning in to check out TNA's product, as Impact's steady ratings increase proves.

The other development that is drawing interest to TNA and Impact is that the build for Bound for Glory is now in full motion. Bound for Glory is TNA's biggest pay-per-view of the year and it will emanate from San Diego on Sunday, October 20. AJ Styles recently won the Bound for Glory Series on Impact and he will face the TNA World Heavyweight Champion at the pay-per-view.

I am thrilled that Impact's ratings are increasing, but I'm surprised that it's happening against the NFL. It just proves that wrestling fans have not gone away and once they find a worthwhile product, they will gravitate towards it. If TNA can keep increasing Impact's ratings throughout the 2013 NFL season, it may prove to be a turning point for the exciting wrestling promotion.

Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of pro wrestling. Patrick's favorite wrestling promotion was Mid-South Wrestling back in the 1980s. Patrick's favorite wrestling angle of all-time was the NWO and his favorite wrestler is Roddy Piper. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.

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