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AEW and WWE Ratings Report: Legends Night brings WWE RAW back over 2 million viewers

raw legends night

The Big News

Monday Night RAW on January 4th averaged 2.128 million viewers for Legends Night. It was the largest audience for the show since March 18th, the first show of the “pandemic era”. It was also the first time the show had been over 2 million viewers since the start of the NFL Football season.

This Week’s Numbers

The siege of the Capitol Building on Wednesday had viewers glued to their TV sets, but to the cable news channels and not wrestling. CNN boasted its highest viewership of all-time on the day and AEW Dynamite and NXT, despite loaded up shows that had been promoted for weeks, did not do nearly as well as would’ve been expected.

Dynamite averaged 662,000 viewers, down 34.3% from last week’s tribute show for Brodie Lee. It was the lowest viewership for the show since June 24.

The show just cracked the top 50 on the cable charts with a 0.25 rating in the 18-49 demo, finishing 48th. That was also the lowest since June 24th in that category.

NXT was up, following last week’s record low numbers against the monster AEW rating. Viewership averaged 641,000, up 9.4% from last week. They were up 33.3% in the demo, with a 0.16, and finished 58th on the cable charts.

The combined viewership of 1.303 million viewers on Wednesday was down 16.6% from last week and the lowest since May 20th.

The combination of no NFL Football for the first since in months and the return of Legends Night led to a resurgence in ratings for Monday Night RAW. The show averaged 2.128 million viewers, up 20.3% from last week.

In the 18-49 demo, the show did a 0.68 rating. That’s the highest since the RAW after Mania show, which had done a 0.7. It was also up 30.8% from last week. For whatever reason, the returns of Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan always lead to increased viewership among younger people. The over-50 demo was relatively flat and it was the younger viewers that spurred this viewership increase for the show.

Next week’s show should be back down significantly going up against the College Football National Championship Game.

The semi-final game on Friday January 1st did a number on Smackdown’s ratings. Following the highest viewership of 2020 for the Christmas night episode, Smackdown barely cracked 2 million viewers, averaging 2.013 million on New Year’s night.

That was down 39.1% from last week, which had the benefit of a monster lead in from the NFL. In 18-49, the show averaged a 0.53 rating, down 44.8% from the previous week. It was a rare week when RAW had higher viewership and demo numbers than what has become the WWE’s flagship show in recent months.

Year-Over-Year Numbers

AEW Dynamite was down 30.1% in average viewers and 30.6% in the 18-49 from the same week last year.

NXT on the USA Network was down 11.1% in viewers and 15.8% in the demo.

Even with the impressive number for Legends Night, RAW was down from last year. The drops were 10.8% in average viewership and 8.1% in 18-49. That shows just how far the average numbers have fallen in recent months.

Smackdown was down 16.6% in average viewership and 24.3% in 18-49.

Ratings Extra

If you’ve been following this column, you’ve seen in recent weeks the detailed ratings numbers for the Wednesday Night War in terms of average viewers per segment and average viewers gained per segment for both AEW Dynamite and NXT.

If you’re seeing this for the first time, the charts below are based on numbers published in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and are the highest and lowest average number of viewers per quarter in which a talent was featured as well as average number of viewers gained or lost per quarter in which a talent was featured.

The most important chart, to me, would be the viewers gained and lost per segment. In the first 3 quarters of 2020, only one act in each company cracked the top 10 in average viewers gained per segment and that was Rhea Ripley in NXT and Chuck Taylor (for whatever reason) in AEW. Only one of them appears below.

This is based on a minimum of 2 appearances in the quarter so with the small sample size you get some interesting results. Next week, I’ll publish the cumulative lists for all of 2020 and increase the minimum appearances to 10 which should give a better idea of who is consistently moving the numbers. But the information below is interesting in itself I believe, so without further ado…

Top 10 viewers per segment (minimum 2 appearances):

  1. Matt Hardy 1,038,500 (AEW)
  2. Sting 963,000 (AEW)
  3. Brandi Rhodes 944,500 (AEW)
  4. Varsity Blondes 928,500 (AEW)
  5. Brodie Lee 927,000 (AEW)***
  6. Top Flight 900,000 (AEW)
  7. Preston Vance 895,250 (AEW)
  8. Orange Cassidy 894,833 (AEW)
  9. Lance Archer 886,750 (AEW)
  10. Colt Cabana 880,667 (AEW

Top NXT talent:

Kyle O’Reilly 734,667

*** I included the main event segment of the Brodie Lee Tribute segment in his total for the purposes of this analysis

Bottom 10 viewers per segment (minimum 2 appearances)

  1. Breezango 564,000 (NXT)
  2. Timothy Thatcher 606,909 (NXT)
  3. Imperium (Aichner/Barthel) 611,000 (NXT)
  4. Kacy Catanzaro 622,500 (NXT)
  5. August Grey 625,667 (NXT)
  6. Tomasso Ciampa 632,375 (NXT)
  7. Mercedes Martinez 637,000 (NXT)
  8. Velveteen Dream 645,200 (NXT)
  9. Grizzled Young Veterans 645,600 (NXT)
  10. Dexter Lumis 646,286 (NXT)

Bottom AEW talent:

Shawn Spears 666,333

Top 10 viewers gained per segment (minimum 2 appearances):

  1. Christopher Daniels 63,000 (AEW)
  2. Frankie Kazarian 55,500 (AEW)
  3. Pete Dunne 30,286 (NXT)
  4. Raquel Gonzalez 27,875 (NXT)
  5. Kyle O’Reilly 26,375 (NXT)
  6. Finn Balor 24,500 (NXT)
  7. Brodie Lee 24,000 (AEW)
  8. Trent 21,500 (AEW)
  9. Io Shirai 20,250 (NXT)
  10. Karrion Kross 13,667 (NXT)

Bottom 10 viewers gained (lost) per segment (minimum 2 appearances):

  1. The Acclaimed -117,667 (AEW)
  2. Colt Cabana -101,500 (AEW)
  3. Thunder Rosa -92,500 (AEW)
  4. Isaiah Scott -89,000 (NXT)
  5. Evil Uno -87,500 (AEW)
  6. Wardlow -82,500 (AEW)
  7. Ashante Adonis -78,333 (NXT)
  8. Jake Atlas -73,000 (NXT)
  9. Brandi Rhodes -71,500 (AEW)
  10. Kip Sabian -68,250 (AEW)
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