"Or is it someone else???? Chavo Guerrero, Taz, Christy Hemme, Brooke Tessmacher, Tara?"
Why would any of these attribute the most to TNA? If the ratings shot up since they joined then fair enough but they really haven't improved. They are mid carders (and commentators/announcers).
Personally there's only three people you could attribute to TNA increasing in exposure since its inception. Christian cage helped pull fans in, as did Angle jumping over. These people turning up definitely met a rise in viewership.
Before the middle of 2005, TNA was pulling in 0.1-3s! Mid 2005 it started hitting 0.8s. This rose to 1.0+ in 2006. Angle debuted in september of that year and ratings were predominantly below 0.9. It wasn't until 2007 did TNA pull in consistant 1.0+ and above, pulling in their first 1.0+ average for the year.
For 2010 and Hogan, they pulled in 1.4 ratings for a few months, but eventually fizzled out big time, only managed 1.06 for the year. 2011 they had 1.17 for the year and 2012 saw it drop back down to 1.01.
So personally, it would appear 2007 saw TNA finally break 1.0 ratings. 2009 and 2011 were the only two years to be 1.1 and above both of them pre and post hogan respectively.
Even Jeff Hardy's return ended up flopping by the years end (ratings fell heavily after his full return in march 2010)
In his first spell as champion; in 2010 ratings dropped from 0.7-1.1 throughout the year to 0.4-0.6. The first huge drop came during his time as champion.
In his second time as champion in 2012; Ratings were at the lowest it had been all year during his championship period.
I think 2007 and Christian/Angle being in the company attributed the most (therefore i'm picking angle as the biggest attributer to TNA). 2007 also saw them expand to 2 hours, and november 2006 saw them move to an earlier time slot on thursdays.
People saying anyone besides Hogan or Angle are wrong, personally. How Aries or Roode be included when they are actually pulling in lower rating than 2009 and 2011?
Kurt angle and Hogan brought their names and fame, something most of TNA's talents don't possess. (obviously there's a few like Team 3D, Sting and Hardy). But Hogan makes mainstream media frequently. His name's one of the most well known, even with non-wrestling fans. Angle was also one of the biggest stars in the WWE before he left for TNA.
But as ratings show; Ratings are around the same as they grew too in 2007, months after angle's debut in september 2006. I don't think it's too coincidental that ratings slowly rose after he joined the company in all honesty. That, coupled with a better time slot helped take TNA to the next level (which they are still at currently).