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AEW & WWE Ratings Report: NBA Playoffs take a bite out of pro wrestling ratings

The big news: NBA Playoffs take a bite out of pro wrestling ratings

The big winners of the last year in terms of television ratings are the NFL and the NBA and with the latter league at the start of it’s playoff season, numbers are up from last year and the result is a big decline in the wrestling numbers. All five shows were down this week and the big four were all down year over in 18–49 with only SmackDown (which ran against a play-in game) showing a very small viewership increase. These numbers won’t get any better as the NBA gets deeper into the playoffs.

This week’s numbers

  • AEW Dynamite averaged 930,000 viewers, down 6.7% from the previous Wednesday and the lowest audience for the show since February 16 and second lowest of the year to date. In the 18–49 demo, the show averaged the same 0.37 rating as last week, which matched the lowest rating in that category since March 2. Dynamite was fourth on cable in the demo, trailing two NBA playoff playoff games on ESPN and the post-game show for the late one. Ratings were mostly even in the individual demo categories with three notable exceptions.  Females 12–34 showed a sizable decrease of 21.1%. Males in the same age range were up 17.9% so the two essentially balanced each other out. People over 50 were down 10.5%, which was the main reason for the overall decline in viewers.  
  • WWE NXT 2.0 averaged 569,000 viewers, down 6.7% from last week. It was the lowest audience for the show since March 1. In the 18–49 demo, the show finished 44th on the cable charts  on a night with tough competition. NXT 2.0 did a 0.12 rating in 18–49, which was identical to last week. The 18–49 number tied the lowest mark for the show on USA Network since January 18. The biggest drop was with men 18-49, which were down 17.7%. But females in that same age group were up 66.7% and had their highest rating since January in that demo. Exactly the same as Dynamite, the reason for the overall drop was a 10.5% decrease with people over 50. 
  • Monday Night RAW on the USA Network averaged 1,648,333 viewers for the April 18th episode. That’s down 8.9% from last week, and was the lowest audience for a show on the USA Network since January 17. In the 18–49 demo, the show averaged a 0.47 rating, down 13%, and was the lowest for the show since March 9. RAW was third on cable in the key demo, trailing two NBA playoff games on ESPN. 
  • Friday Night SmackDown on April 8 averaged 2,142,000 viewers on FOX, down 4.1% from last week. The show finished second on network television with a 0.48 rating, down 20% from the April 8 show. It was the lowest rating in the key demo since the return to live touring last July. They did lead network programming in the 18–34 demo with a 0.33 rating. 
  • AEW Rampage averaged 482,000 viewers, down 19.7% from last week. It was the second best audience for the show since March 11, despite the fact that it aired three hours earlier due to the NBA playoffs.  In the 18–49 demo, the show averaged a 0.22 rating, down 12%, and finished ninth on the cable charts in that category. Removing NBA related programming from the mix, the show was third on cable in the key demo. 

As shown in the chart below, the increases/decreases over the ten-week average, prior to this week, are as follows:

  • AEW Dynamite was down 6.1% in viewers and 2.6% in 18–49. It’s the seventh time in the last eight weeks that the audience has been between 930,000 and 993,000 viewers so this was a little down but still in the same range of what would be considered normal right now.      
  • WWE NXT 2.0 was down 2.2% in viewers and 7.7% in 18–49 so the show skewed a bit older. The two weeks of airing on SyFy bring down those averages just a bit. 
  • WWE RAW was down 7.4% in viewers and 4.1% 18–49. The show skewed younger for the sixth straight week.
  • WWE SmackDown was down 3% in viewers and 14.3% in 18–49. This is unusual for Smackdown as the 18-49 number nearly dropped to RAW levels but the competition was very tough on Friday. 
  • AEW Rampage was down 3.3% in overall viewers but up 5.3% in 18–49. They were the only one of the five shows to beat their ten week average in either category, likely the result of having a World title match in the main event and despite the earlier time slot.  

Year-over-year numbers

AEW Dynamite was down 15.8% in overall viewers but even in the 18–49 demo. The 18-49 number holding up so well despite going against the NBA playoffs, which weren’t airing yet at this time last year, has to be considered a win.  

WWE NXT 2.0 was down 32.3% in viewers and 47.8% in 18–49. These drops further emphasize just how good the comparisons are for AEW. 

WWE RAW was down 13.6% in viewers and 23% in 18–49. With the exception of the two week stretch surrounding WrestleMania, the 18-49 drops have generally been 20% or more going back over 6 months which is far worse than can be explained away by the lack of cable homes.   

WWE SmackDown was up 1.1% in overall viewers but down 14.3% in 18–49. They were the only one of the four shows to have a year over year  increase in any category. 

Ratings extra

Last week I presented the March 2022 averages for all five shows compared to the 2021 averages for the four shows that were airing a year ago. This week will be the averages for Q1 2022 compared to 2021, which covers the months of January–March. This gives a bit of a better look at trends, evening out week to week fluctuations that can occur.

AEW Dynamite averaged 1,000,154 in Q1 of 2022 and 0.3892 in 18–49. These numbers were up 29% and 27.8% respectively from the same quarter in 2021.

NXT 2.0 averaged 593,077 viewers and 0.1285 in 18–49 for the quarter. That’s down 9.3% in viewers and 21.6% in 18–49. That 18–49 drop is the worst among all four major shows.

WWE RAW averaged 1,721,629 viewers from January–March with a 0.4585 in 18–49. The show was down 7% in viewers and 18.8% in 18–49.

WWE SmackDown did best among WWE programming. The show averaged 2,200,000 viewers in Q1, up 0.7% from last year and 0.5617 in 18–49 which was down 5.3% from last year.

AEW Rampage averaged 519,667 viewers and 0.2008 in 18–49 for the first quarter of 2021, down from 567,889 and 0.22899 in Q4 of 2021.

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