SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE Monday Night Raw on USA Network last night drew a 1.66 rating. One year ago Raw drew a 1.94 rating. Viewership opened higher than it has since Feb. 17 with 2.412 million viewers in the first hour. During the replay of the Royal Rumble, viewership grew to 2.486 million (viewership ducally drops from the first to the second hour). It then dropped sharply to 2.108 million in the third hour, which is normal. In fact, the third hour has averaged 2.109 million this year heading into this week.
This indicates that the Royal Rumble replay likely helped viewership, rather than hurt it. WWE and USA Network can take solace in viewers who usually watch tuning in as usual, and that Smackdown’s empty-arena format wasn’t a one-time novelty that drove people away from watching again. On the downside, they built the show around “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in the third hour, and that third hour featuring an empty-arena match and more talking segments didn’t lead to an above-average viewership even with Austin’s appearance.
The 1.66 overall rating is above last week’s 1.59 and was the highest since Feb. 17. The highest rating of the year was 1.69 on Jan. 6, so this was basically tied with the high point of the year. If USA Network or WWE were highly concerned fans would tune out right away, that hasn’t happened for the first Raw with a new format and setting.
Raw finished in the top three positions among all cable programs in the 18-49 demographic with ratings of 0.80. 0.77, and 0.70. CNN finished in the top five with a 0.55 rating in that demo.