The big news
Numbers were relatively stable this week so there’s nothing that really qualifies as “big”. NXT narrowed the gap in overall viewers but the one advertisers care about, the 18-49 demo, widened a bit. NXT is skewing much older than a year ago, which we will get into. RAW numbers should start looking much better year-over-year as they bottomed out for a few months last year running from the empty Performance Center and they shouldn’t get to those levels again. But we’ll see.
This week’s numbers
AEW Dynamite averaged 757,000 viewers, up 1.4% from last week. I don’t know if you’d call it a pattern but that’s 7 out of the last 11 weeks the show has been between 730,000 and 770,000 viewers so that seems to be the level they’re settling in at. The show was 6th on cable in the 18-49 demo with a 0.30 rating, up 7.1% from last week. They finished 3rd with men 18-49 behind two NBA games on ESPN.
WWE NXT averaged 678,000 viewers, up 13.6% from the previous week. Their numbers are all over the place but most consistent pattern I can find is that they have been between 650,000 and 720,000 7 of the last 10 weeks. But prior to that, they had two shows under that low end and a show above the high end. There’s no rhyme or reason for it either, as there was nothing but a women’s tag title advertised for this show and that match didn’t even end up taking place as originally scheduled. The show was back in the top 30 with a 0.14 rating in 18-49, up 7.7% from last week. They did handily win the 50+ demo (that no one but me cares about since I’m in it) with a 0.40 rating to 0.28 for Dynamite. They lost every other category. They may have won with teenagers as that’s not a “major demo” that’s put on the main cable charts but given that the gap in 12-34 was only 0.14 to 0.13 and Dynamite won big in 18-34, that seems like a reasonable assumption.
Monday Night RAW on March 22nd had no obvious bump from the Fast Lane PPV/Network/Peacock special the night before. The show did face big competition in the form of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and it’s possible they had a bump that prevented them from falling further than they did. The show averaged 1.816 million viewers, down 1.5% from the previous week. In the 18-49 demo, the show finished 4th on cable for the night with a 0.53 rating, down 5.4% from the previous week.
Smackdown on FOX on March 19th was down as well against the NCAA. The show averaged 2.093 million viewers, a 3.6% drop from the previous week. They dropped 6.6% in 18-49, which was still good enough to beat everything else on TV with the exception of the basketball. Daylight savings time may have played a small factor in the number as the first hour was 8% lower than the 2nd and the hours are usually close to even and often drop slightly in the 2nd hour.
AEW Dynamite was down 7.6% in overall viewers and 11.8% in 18-49. Those are pretty close to what the quarterly average is going to be in both categories so it was very much a normal week in that sense.
NXT was up 1.4% in overall viewers but down 30% in 18-49. In past weeks, I’ve said that there’s a shift in 18-49 from NXT to AEW. Here, that audience is just gone. It could be that there were absolutely no sports going on a year ago at this time and now we have NHL and the NBA, among other things, running pretty much nightly.
RAW was down 9.5% in overall viewers and 13.1% in 18-49. This is only the second time since February 2020 that the year over year drop for RAW has been less than 10%. But, as stated in last week’s column, that should be the norm going forward and we could even see some increases.
Smackdown was down 18.5% in viewers and 28.8% in 18-49. Those are really bad but can be completely blamed on the NCAA, especially considering there was no tournament last year.
Not much this week. I just wanted to highlight the most notable thing from last week’s Wednesday Night War in terms of segment ratings.
Rather than looking at the total viewers per segment (whether overall or 18-49), I really like to focus on the increases and losses as I think it’s important to see who or what is moving numbers.
By that measure, the main event of Thunder Rosa vs Britt Baker was a huge ratings success. Their main event segment averaged 795,000 viewers, which was only a little over the show average and doesn’t sound that impressive on the surface. However, it was an increase of 119,000 viewers from the previous segment. That’s a 17.6% increase. Aside from overruns when there is a massive tune in to NXT sometimes (including this week), that’s one of the biggest segment jumps in the history of the Wednesday Night War.
Conversely, the segment earlier in the show featuring an advertised segment of Sting being interviewed, even though he didn’t actually say anything, and turned into a confrontation with Lance Archer and an internal argument between Team Taz dropped the same amount of viewers. It went from 835,000 viewers previously with Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston and the Good Brothers to 716,000. It fell even further in the next segment before the ladies brought it back for the main event.
The 18-49 gains for the main event were very similar. They rose from 328,000 to 387,000, an increase of 18% in the key demo. The Sting/Team Taz deal didn’t drop quite as badly, though, with that demo. They went from 382,000 to 340,000, a drop of 10.9%. Another big “loser” on the show was the 10-man tag with Private Party, Matt Hardy and Butcher and Blade vs Bear Country and Jurassic Express. That fell from 379,000 to 343,000, a drop of 9.5%. The 18-49 number is generally much more steady for AEW so that huge gain in the main event is an even bigger story than it appears.
I’d like to encourage all of you to check out a podcast that airs on the Fight Game Media Network Patreon. Parker Klyn and I are co-hosting The Dynamite Show, a quick recap of AEW Dynamite. Parker does the written Dynamite coverage for both this site and F4W Online, and this podcast is a nice companion to that work.