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WWE Monday Night Raw last night (7/13) on USA Network drew a live and same-night cable rating of 1.20, up from last week’s all-time low mark of 1.09 and also above the 1.15 rating of two weeks ago. The rating last week was likely lower due to being the day after the Fourth of July and considered still part of an extended holiday weekend.
The current ten week rolling average is 1.21. The average Raw rating this year is 1.28. The average rating in June was 1.23. The peak month this year was April, averaging 1.37.
In the key 18-49 adult demographic, Raw drew 0.43, above the 0.41 and 0.41 the last two weeks, but still among the lowest of all time. The ten week average before the last three weeks was 0.50.
In the male 18-49 demographic, the rating the last three weeks has been 0.51, 0.53, and 0.53. The prior three weeks drew 0.64, 0.64, and 0.62.
In the male 18-34 demographic, Raw drew 0.28, 0.30, and 0.35, below the 0.40 and 0.41 of the prior two weeks.
Hourly viewership followed a typical pattern, dropping 162,000 viewers from the first to the third hour. The yearly average dropoff is 151,000. The first hour drew 1.672 million, the second hour 1.647 million, and the third hour 1.510 million.
To put in perspective that third hour viewership of 1.510 million, before the pandemic, Raw was averaging 2.108 million viewers the first 11 weeks of 2020 (Jan. 6-March 16, 2020). That’s a loss of roughly one out of four viewers for Raw’s third hour since the last episode of Raw in front of a live audience. WWE is hoping the post-ThunderDome era brings back many of those viewers through a combination of better atmosphere with fans in arenas across the country and a return of some big name wrestlers.
The blame for the drop in viewers cannot be attributed even primarily to the pandemic and the lack of live crowds, though. The 2019 average third hour viewership during the same time period was 2.440 million. So before the pandemic, Raw had lost over 300,000 from the same period in the prior year. The average during that same stretch in 2018 was 2.962 million. That’s a drop of over 500,000 from early 2018 to early 2019. The 2017 average during the same sample period was 3.030 million.
In other words, WWE’s loss of viewers correlates to a drop in linear cable viewing as more and more people watch shows on demand through streaming services, whether or not they still even have access to traditional “cable” linear scheduled live programming. WWE’s drop appears to be significantly greater than what other sports and key programming has experienced, although there are variables that make it hard to measure how much sharper. Nevertheless, WWE is driving away viewers at a faster rate than the general industry sector-wide shift in viewer habits would indicate would be expected.
The third hour viewership the first 11 weeks of 2017 was twice what last night’s third hour of Raw drew. Neither the pandemic and lack of live fans nor sector-wide trends accounts for that massive of a dropoff in viewers’ interest in watching WWE long-time flagship program the night it airs live.