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WWE Monday Night Raw dropped to a 1.64 rating, below last year’s Christmas night show and among the lowest of all-time for WWE’s flagship program by any measurement standard. Raw drew a 1.5 rating back on Dec. 23, 1996, which would also be considered a borderline holiday rating.
The rating is below the 1.79 from last week and well below he 2018 average of 2.06. It’s also well below the year-ago rating of 1.97. Two years ago this week, Raw drew what was then a stunningly low rating of 1.75.
In the key demographic, Raw dropped its usual 1.0 rating to a 0.8 rating among 18-49 year old adults, the group that advertisers most covet. TV By the Numbers noted: “USA’s WWE Monday Night Raw took a noticeable hit this week, falling two-tenths from its previous 1.0 peak rating to a 0.8 this time around.”
Raw still landed in the no. 4, 6, and 7 spots in the daily cable rankings among that key demo, below three NFL programs on ESPN. The NFL Monday Night Football game itself drew 12.011 million viewers in total for a battle between two smaller market teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Only one other cable show (“Ray J & Princess Labor” on VH1) drew a rating higher than 0.5 in that demographic.
The first hour drew 2.493 million, a drop from last week’s first hour viewership of 2.839, a drop of 346,000 viewers (and a drop of over 600,000 from the Aug. 20 episode). The second hour dropped sharply to 2.275 million, a drop-off of 281,000 viewers. The average drop-off from the first to the second hour in 2018 is actually just 3,000. Yes, three-thousand. It dropped 281,000 this week. Hourly viewership was 2.493 million first hour, 2.275 million.second hour, and 2.281 million third hour.
There is no good spin on the rating for this episode, which was built around a drama regarding whether Dean Ambrose would stay loyal to his Shield partners against Baron Corbin and two mystery partners. The show also featured a long segment at the start of the second hour touting WWE’s partnership with Connor’s Cure to raise awareness for pediatric cancer.
Keller’s Analysis: WWE has a guaranteed big-money TV renewal kicking in next fall with both NBC Universal for Raw and Fox broadcast network for Smackdown. These numbers might be alarming to the TV executives who paid big money for a certain audience expectation. Raw, though, remains a top ten program on its night, but the sharp drop-off this week, if it’s part of a trend that reflects WWE’s more cavalier approach to taking viewership for granted with some content choices lately, could turn into a larger issue for WWE that would require some corrective actions.
Those corrective actions would include less self-aggrandizing segments celebrating their own charity work (which are about building their corporate image at the expense of providing programming for the viewers who chose to tune in to be entertained) and fewer promotional segments for other shows and events that are part of WWE’s growing portfolio of shows (Mixed Match Challenge, Total Bellas, 205 Live & NXT & Mae Young on Wednesday nights on WWE Network, Super Show-down, Evolution, Crown Jewel, WWE’s video games and movies, and more were part of the bombardment of co-promotional messages that got in the way of just presenting a pro wrestling show for its viewers in the last three weeks).
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