The big news
Coverage of the Donald Trump impeachment trial held most of the top 50 spots on the cable charts and the result was the lowest combined audience for wrestling since May. AEW Dynamite won the night but both that show and NXT were down significantly from the previous week in both viewership and the 18-49 demographic.
This week’s numbers
AEW Dynamite averaged 741,000 viewers, down 12.2% from last week. The show finished 21st on the cable charts with a 0.29 rating, down 9.4%, in the 18-49 demo. This was tied for the 2nd lowest demo number and viewership total since November.
NXT averaged 558,000 viewers, down 8.5% from the previous week. The show was down 20% in 18-49 and finished just 62nd on the charts with a 0.12 rating. That matched the lowest total for the show in its history since debuting on USA Network in October 2019. The viewership total was the 2nd lowest in history for a show featuring live matches.
Monday Night RAW was down 9.4% from last week, averaging 1.715 million viewers. The show averaged a 0.49 rating in the 18-49 demo, down 15.5% from last week. The show did finish atop the cable ratings in that demo but finished behind most network TV programming.
Friday Night SmackDown on February 5th was down 2% from the previous week, averaging 2.257 million viewers. Smackdown averaged a 0.65 rating in 18-49, up 4.8% from the previous week. It was the only wrestling show to increase in the demo from the previous week. Smackdown finished 2nd on television in that demo behind ABC’s Shark Tank.
AEW Dynamite was down 9.3% in overall viewers and 3.3% in 18-49. Both categories held up better this week in year-over-year comparisons than anything else in wrestling.
NXT was down 26.3% in viewership and an astounding 50% in 18-49.
Monday Night RAW was down 26.6% in viewership and 38.8% in 18-49. These year-over-year drops for RAW and NXT, which both air on USA Network, are incredibly bad.
Friday Night Smackdown was down 11.1% in viewership and 18.8% in the 18-49 demo. The show continues to skew older.
You never want to overreact to one week of poor numbers, but this week’s numbers are particularly jarring.
In the last 10 weeks, the average RAW year-over-year drop in 18-49 has been 21.8%. Over that same time frame, the average rating has been 0.54. With the same rate of decline, the rating next year at this time would be down to 0.43.
NXT in that same time frame has averaged a 26.5% drop while averaging a 0.16 rating. That would take them down to a 0.12 rating with the same rate of decline. And that’s an average number, meaning half the time, they’d be below that. This is notable since right now, that’s their record low.
AEW, meanwhile, has averaged a 2.4% increase over that time period while averaging a 0.33 rating. That would bring them up to a 0.34 rating on average. This means that there is a very good change that AEW could be beating Monday Night RAW some weeks. Not most weeks but it would happen if these rates of decline, or increases in the case of AEW, continue. In two years, AEW would be beating RAW in the key demo more weeks than not based on current trends. And NXT could be below a 0.1 rating in that same time period.