The big news: Dynamite with 14th straight week of double-digit year-over-year growth
Since the return of live touring, AEW Dynamite has seen a surge in viewership, especially compared with last year’s numbers. This week marked the fourteenth straight week that the viewership increased over the same week in 2020. That growth was at least 13% and the average growth in that time frame is over 30%. Of course much of this is due to the fact that WWE NXT was also airing on Wednesday nights last year but the increases weren’t this high prior to the resumption of touring. To me, this shows just how important the crowd is to the AEW presentation and is probably the main reason why their audience numbers have continued to rise while other wrestling programming has been on a slow, steady, decline for the most part.
This week’s numbers
AEW Dynamite averaged 1,152,000 viewers on TNT, down 9.5% from the previous week. It was the lowest audience for the show in the last four weeks. In the 18–49 demo, the show topped the cable charts with a 0.45 rating. That’s a 6.3% decrease from last week and tied for the seventh highest demo number in the history of Dynamite. The decreases were pretty steady among all age groups but the biggest declines were with women and particularly with younger ones. In 18–49 the female decrease was 20.7% while the male audience has an identical rating to last week. With the 12–34 age group, females were down 33.3% while males were up 3.3%. They also had a big drop with people in the 18–34 category, a decline of 22.6%
WWE NXT 2.0 on the USA Network, averaged 655,000 viewers, down 12.2% from last week. In the 18–49 demo the show dropped to 32nd on the cable charts with a 0.14 rating in 18–49. That’s down 30% from the previous week. Like with Dynamite it was females, and particularly younger ones, that hurt this number. In the 18–49 age group women were down 43.8% while men were only down 16.7%. In 12–34, females were down 66.7% while males were only down 36.4%. The 0.03 rating with females 12–34 is the lowest rating they’ve done in the history of the show.
Monday Night RAW on the USA Network averaged 1,708,707 viewers for the September 27 episode. That’s down 4.7% from last week. In the 18–49 demo, the show averaged a 0.48 rating, down 2% from the previous week. Monday Night Football continues to do strong numbers with different feeds airing on ESPN and ESPN 2 combining for 14.8 million viewers as well as over 25 million viewers watching the various programming on the major broadcast networks, over double what they were doing a month ago. Knowing that the competition would be tough, RAW promoted a World title match to kick off the show that had a non-finish leading to a cage match, also for the title, later in the show. Despite their hot-shotting, the third hour drop was over 12% which was the biggest drop since April. It has been shown time and again that promoting the same match twice in the same show does not hold viewers, particularly for RAW.
Friday Night SmackDown on September 24 averaged 2.135 million viewers, down 4.8% from the previous week. The show was second on television in the 18–49 demo with a 0.55 rating. That’s down 5.2% from the week before. SmackDown’s numbers have been hurt by the returns of original programming to network TV on Friday nights, in particular Big Brother, which aired a special episode on Friday, and and the new version of The Wonder Years.
AEW Rampage on the same night following SmackDown averaged 640,000 viewers, virtually identical to last week. It was the lowest audience in the short history of the show for the fourth straight week. In the 18–49 demo the show averaged the same 0.28 rating as last week and topped the cable charts. These numbers don’t tell a fair story, however. This was night two of their Grand Slam series from Arthur Ashe Stadium and they went an extra hour, finishing at midnight on the east coast. The regular hour averaged 727,000 viewers, which would’ve been the largest audience since the CM Punk debut and third biggest overall. In 18-49, it averaged a 0.32 which would’ve been third best as well. The second hour dropped hard, averaging 552,000 viewers and a 0.25 in the demo. The latter number still beat out all but two other shows on cable for the day which is incredible given the late hour.
As shown in the chart below, the increases/decreases over the ten-week average, prior to this week, are as follows:
- AEW Dynamite was up 2% in viewers and 4.7% in the 18–49 demo. It’s somewhat amazing that 1.15 million viewers and a 0.45 in the demo are now basically average numbers.
- WWE NXT was down 1.8% in viewers and 14.3% in 18–49. There’s a pretty big discrepancy between overall numbers and younger viewers here which could be a rejection of the current direction. This will be something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
- WWE RAW was down 7.6% in viewers and 7.7% in 18–49. This is the NFL effect. There are fourteen more weeks of football to contend with on Mondays so it will take some time for these numbers to normalize. But it’s clear that Monday Night Football is back to taking a sizable chunk of RAW‘s viewers.
- WWE SmackDown was down 2.8% in viewers and 8.3% in 18–49. As stated above, SmackDown continues to be hurt by first run network programming but not nearly to the extent that RAW is.
- AEW Rampage was down 16.5% in overall viewers but was even in 18–49. The regular hour the show normally airs in was down 5.2% in overall viewers but up 14.3% in 18–49. That average is greatly affected by the August 20 show that featured the debut of CM Punk with the company.
AEW Dynamite was up 33% in overall viewers and 36.4% in 18–49. Dynamite is now routinely up in double digits year over year compared to last year when they had NXT as direct competition on Wednesdays. Early indications were that Dynamite saw an increase of about 15-20% immediately following the move while NXT, with the Tuesday move, was up 5–10%. The differences from those numbers reflect how hot (or cold) the shows are and Dynamite is hot right now.
WWE NXT was down 10.5% in viewers and 36.3% in 18–49. This is being compared to when they were running on Wednesdays opposite Dynamite so it’s even worse than it seems on the surface. The real declines are probably more like 20% and 50% respectively based on not having the head to head competition any longer.
RAW was down 6.2% in viewers and 12.7% in 18–49. After a nice run of year over year increases in both categories it’s now the second drop in the last three weeks in viewers and the fifth drop in the last six weeks for the demo number. The latter coincides with the start of NFL football, including pre-season games that started in mid-August and one week with a college football game airing opposite the show.
SmackDown was up 1.2% in viewers and 8.3% in 18–49. The viewership increase is very good for network television while the drop in the demo number is in the range of what most network programming does.
It’s the end of the month, and you know what that means . . .
This week we can take a look at the September averages for all five shows and compare four of them to the same month in 2020 to get a better picture of the bigger trends. Next week I’ll have the averages for Q3 of 2021 as compared to the same time frame in 2020.
AEW Dynamite averaged 1,193,200 viewers in 2021, up 31.7% from last year. In 18–49 the increase was 32%, going from an average of 0.344 to 0.454.
WWE NXT averaged 693,000 viewers over the past month, down 8.9% last year. In 18–49 the average was 0.1725, a 16.3% drop from 0.206 in 2020. So the change in nights actually resulted in a year over year drop for NXT, at least for this past month.
WWE RAW averaged 1,755,029 viewers in September. That’s an increase of 1.7% from the 2020 average of 1,725,055. There was a drop in 18-49, however, as the show went from an average of 0.5075 to 0.48 in 2021. That’s a decline of 5.4%. Football is way up this year, particular in 18–49, so that’s the main culprit.
WWE Smackdown had an average overall viewership of 2,245,250 over the past month. That’s a decent increase of 3.2% over the 2020 average of 2,176,250. They also rose in 18-49 by 4.4%, going from 0.575 in 2020 to 0.60 this year.
AEW Rampage averaged 662,000 viewers and a 0.28 in the 18-49 demo.
As you can see by these averages, Dynamite is actually closer to RAW in terms of both viewership and demo number than NXT is to them so that’s the updated version of the AEW vs WWE ratings war.