PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
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This week’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw on USA Network drew a 1.56 rating, down from last week’s 1.70 rating. This is a new low for Raw, with 2.336 million in the first hour, 2.241 in the second hour, and a mere 1.898 in the third hour, the first sub-2 million viewership for Raw on a non-holiday episode.
The drop-off from the first to the third hour was 438,000, which is slightly above the yearly average of 406,000. The alarming number for WWE is the poor first hour viewership of 2.336 million, which is 846,000 fewer viewers than the first hour viewership the day after Raw. The average first-hour viewership this year was 2.838 million, so it was down 500,000 from that average.
One year ago, Raw drew a 2.14 rating and two years ago it drew a 2.24 rating. The drop-off in rating from 2.14 to 1.56 year-to-year is 27 percent.
There is typically a drop the week after the Superstar Shake-up and post-WrestleMania season settles in, but last year the drop-off compared to the prior ten-week average was 14 percent whereas this year the drop-off compared to the prior ten-week average was 35, precisely two-and-a-half times larger.
What is key to watch this week is whether Smackdown drops as much or at all. If Smackdown holds its audience, despite stiff competition from marquee NBA and NHL playoff games, perhaps the Raw drop-off can be a attributed to the shift of top star Roman Reigns from Raw to Smackdown. If Smackdown doesn’t hold it’s rating better, then it’s a general drop-off in interest in WWE, including the end of The Shield and the departures of Dean Ambrose, Ronda Rousey, Paul Heyman, and Brock Lesnar as regular TV acts compared to WrestleMania season.
In the key 18-49 demographic, TV By the Numbers reports that both NBA playoffs topped the ratings with 1.5 and 1.4 rating, with the Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers game going up against the first two-and-a-half hours of Raw. “Love and Hip Hop” on VH1 drew a 0.8 followed by Raw’s three hours at 0.8, 0.7, and 0.6.
In total viewership, the NBA games drew 3.638 million and 3.829 million, with Raw’s first hour coming in at 2.336 million. Several cable news shows drew more than Raw viewership but less than the NBA.