Wrestling With a Definition

Pro wrestling long ago lifted the veil and acknowledged what everyone had known anyway: that it was (say it ain’t so, Chief Jay Strongbow) more or less a scripted passion play of good versus evil.

Inquiring minds at The Wire wondered whether that acknowledgement was why Nielsen Social listed WWE under the “series” category, rather than “sports,” in its list of most tweeted-about and posted-about shows on social media. WWE took two of the top 10 spots recently in the “series” list. So, we asked.

Turns out the call was made not by Nielsen, but by Gracenote, which provides the TV listings Nielsen uses, and that WWE does get a “sports” designation after all.

“Our schedule provider, Gracenote, lists WWE programs as ‘sports nonevents,’ which we include in our series and specials lists,” a spokesperson for Nielsen Social explained. “Only programs that are categorized as ‘Sports Event’ in Gracenote are included in our sports list.”

So, it is not a comment on whether pro wrestling is a sport, but whether it is a regular sports series rather than a sports event? The Wire asked that as a follow-up, having an epiphany that pro wrestling might be a sport after all.

“Should there be any wrestling program in the future that is listed as a sports event in Gracenote, we would include it in our sports lists,” said the Nielsen spokesperson.

Somewhere, Captain Lou Albano is smiling.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.