SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
The final tally on John Cena’s “American Grit” series is the show averaged fewer than 2.0 million viewers per episode.
Placed in a Thursday night prime-time spot on Fox, the show ranked #4 among the major networks each week.
The peak audience was 2.35 million viewers for the season premiere. This was followed by 2.17 million viewers in Week 2 and 2.11 million viewers for the two-hour season finale.
Final actual viewership was 1.98 million viewers, down from overnight average viewership of 2.07 million.
The show was placed in a tough spot, both in terms of marketability and timeslot. WWE barely promoted the show because it was against the second hour of WWE Smackdown and on Fox, a non-NBC Universal channel.
Cena and Fox also tried to depend on social media, especially Cena’s eight million Twitter followers. But, social media reach did not appear to translate to traditional TV viewership.
Also, John Cena’s marketability as the top star of a non-wrestling show was tested. The result was an indication that Cena is a big fish in the small pond of pro wrestling, but not a big-enough deal outside of wrestling to make a difference as hosting a mainstream show. Cena’s fanbase tunes into WWE programming to see Cena in action; not enough people followed him to a military-themed competition show Thursday nights on a different channel.
Also, Cena is in the early stages of trying to branch out as a non-wrestling mainstream star. 2015 was a break-through for him in terms of cameo roles in “Trainwreck” and “Sisters,” while also regularly appearing on NBC’s “Today” Show.
However, it appears hosting the Fox show was too much too soon to attract a non-wrestling mainstream audience. Perhaps if the show aired after John Cena hosts the ESPYs this summer on ABC, viewership would have been more respectable for Grit.
Plus, there were no other stars to begin the season besides Cena. It was civilians meeting unknown military representatives, making it difficult to attract an audience for out-of-element Cena + people you haven’t heard of. Plus, the show was part of a larger pool of competition-themed TV shows trying to stand out as patriotic.
Perhaps most telling is each week’s episode lost more than half of its lead-in on Fox, “Bones,” an established series featuring a strong male/female leading dynamic. In this endeavor hosting a mainstream show by himself, Cena may have benefited from a strong co-host to attract a different demographic and larger audience.