The big news: AEW Dynamite tops one million viewers for TBS debut
Professional wrestling returned to TBS for the first time since March 21, 2001. On that date the final episode of WCW Thunder aired and had a 1.9 household rating. Exact viewership was not reported at that time but based on information from when both household ratings and total viewership were available, I’d estimate that audience as between 2.8 and 3.2 million viewers. Fast forward nearly 21 years and the debut episode of AEW Dynamite averaged 1,010,000 viewers and most people would consider that a success. As a fair point of reference, Monday Night RAW that same week did a 4.6 household rating, which would translate to between 6.9 and 7.3 million viewers using the same math. Given that this weeks RAW did approximately 1/4 of that audience, you can see why the Dynamite number is positive.
This week’s numbers
- AEW Dynamite averaged 1,010,000 viewers, up 3.6% from the previous Wednesday but the second highest viewership for the show since October 6. In the 18–49 demo, the show averaged a 0.43 rating, which was the highest since September 29. Dynamite finished second on the cable charts, trailing only and NBA game on on ESPN. Looking at the numbers a little more closely, the biggest increase was with females. In 18–49, they were up 20% while men in the same age group were only up 10%. In 12–34, females were up 100%, meaning they doubled the audience, while males were up 45%. The only age group to see a drop was people over 50, dropping by 2.8%. What makes the female numbers even more impressive is that it’s the second straight week of major growth. As compared to two weeks ago, females 18–49 were up 57.9% and in 12–34 the increase was 167%. Something about these last two shows is attracting women, or something else that they were watching is not airing right now. It’s something to keep an eye on.
- WWE NXT 2.0 on the USA Network, averaged 685,000 viewers, up 3.5% from last week. In the 18–49 demo the show finished twenty fourth on the cable charts. It’s the largest overall audience for the show since October 26. The show did a 0.16 rating in 18–49, the same as last week last week. The show did have major competition in the form of a bowl game on ESPN that did nearly 2.4 million viewers and a 0.69 in the demo. Curse of Oak Island on the History channel also did a big audience with 2.24 million viewers and a 0.33 in 18–49.
- Monday Night RAW on the USA Network averaged 1,716,171 viewers for the January 3 episode. That’s up 7.8% from last week, and the second straight week of audience growth. In the 18–49 demo the show averaged a 0.45 rating, up 9.8%, and was the best rating since November 29. They finished sixth on cable in the demo, but topped all non-NFL related programming.
- Friday Night SmackDown on December 31 averaged 378,000 viewers on FS 1 for a best of 2021 special. Comparisons to the previous week are not really fair since this show was an anomaly. The show finished 58th on the cable charts with a 0.08 rating which may be the lowest ever for a WWE show on cable, not including the Backstage series that used to air on FS 1 weekly.
- AEW Rampage, back on Friday night in it’s regular time slot at 10:00 p.m. eastern, averaged 453,000 viewers, down 23.1% from last week. In the 18–49 demo the show averaged a 0.19 rating, down 26.9%, and finished twenty first on the cable charts in that category. Even thought that was way down from last week, their placement on the cable charts was actually higher, meaning television viewership was way down on that night, which fell on New Year’s Eve.
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 8.6% in viewers and 22.9% in 18–49. It’s the third week in a row the show has been above it’s ten-week average. Probably not coincidentally, the NBA has not aired head to head either of those weeks. It should also be noted that the lead-in on TBS is much stronger in the key demo than it was on TNT.
- WWE NXT 2.0 was up 10.1% in viewers and 14.3% in 18–49. Like Dynamite, NXT had no NBA competition this week, at least on TNT or ESPN.
- WWE RAW was up 6.1% in viewers and 7.1% 18–49. This was coming off of the Day 1 premium live event so there was likely added interest in the show, which new WWE Champion Brock Lesnar was advertised as appearing on.
- WWE SmackDown comparisons are meaningless with the move to FS 1 and airing a highlights show.
- AEW Rampage was down 16.4% in overall viewers and 9.5% in 18–49. Given that this show aired on New Year’s Eve, these numbers aren’t bad at all.
AEW Dynamite was up 52.6% in overall viewers and 72% in the 18–49 demo. This is being compared to the the day of the January 6 US Capitol insurrection because the coverage dominated in cable television ratings for the night. They also still had NXT as direct competition although the news coverage didn’t affect that show nearly as much.
WWE NXT 2.0 was up 6.9% in viewers and was even in 18–49. This was a special show, titled New Year’s Evil, and this may have been a somewhat disappointing rating although they did face much tougher competition than AEW Dynamite this week.
WWE RAW was down 19.3% in viewers and 33.8% in 18–49. It’s the thirteenth straight week of year over year declines in the demo after a good run of growth earlier in the year. The average decline over that time span has been 19%. It should be noted that this week last year was a special edition RAW Homecoming that had the highest audience of 2021.
WWE SmackDown year over year comparisons are useless for the reasons noted above.
Two weeks ago, I presented the average number of viewers per segment, in the 18-49 age group, for every wrestler who appeared at least four times on AEW Dynamite or WWE NXT during Q3, which covers July through September. As a reminder, the top 10 were Bryan Danielson, Brian Pillman Jr., Ruby Soho, CM Punk, John Silver, Jamie Hayter, Alex Reynolds, Shawn Spears, the Dark Order (Cabana/Angels/10) and Hangman Page.
Listed below are average number of overall viewers per segment in that same time period. The only differences are that Kenny Omega and Scorpio Sky are in this list and the Dark Order trio and Hangman Page are out meaning that the latter group is more popular with younger viewers than the former.
Next week, I’ll have the viewers gained per segment in 18–49 where you can actually see who is moving the numbers as opposed to inheriting big audiences. The following week will be the same information but with overall viewers.
|Most Viewers per segment (min 4 appearances)|
|3||Brian Pillman Jr||1,232,400|
|8||Evil Uno/Stu Grayson||1,150,333|
|11||Dark Order (10/Alan Angels/Colt Cabana||1,142,500|
|17||Chavo Guerrero Jr||1,120,000|
|70||Fabian Aichner/Marchel Barthel||708,000|
|79||Joaquin Wilde/Raul Mendoza||683,500|
|88||Ashante Adonis/Top Dolla||656,300|
|94||Io Shirai/Zoey Stark||639,000|