I, Jason, have been tracking and researching Raw, Smackdown, NXT, and AEW concerning the Live+7 AEW ratings. For those unfamiliar, Live+7 ratings are the ratings that combine both the live numbers (those released the day after airing) and the DVR numbers over the next 7 days. I’ve been researching and following these ratings for the past 6 weeks now to see if there is any significant impact. The quick answer: No, there isn’t.
We were thinking that especially with the ratings “war” between AEW and NXT, we would definitely see a large increase of DVR views for both programs, but both have yet to crack the top 25 in Cable Live+7 ratings. In fact, DVR viewership increase is only an average of about 15% to 20%. This means (as an example based on the last numbers), the following was the DVR count for each show (not confirmed, but based on historical data percentages):
Raw (11/18) – 2.217 million (DVR: 440k)
Smackdown (11/15) – 2.35 million (DVR: 470k)
NXT (11/13) – 750k (DVR: 150k)
AEW (11/13) – 957k (DVR: 190k)
So what does this all mean? This means that not as many viewers are DVR’ing the shows and watching them later, as we have speculated, especially for AEW and NXT. This also doesn’t confirm that no one is DVR’ing and watching later either, just that it’s not significant enough to make an impact in ratings.
The lowest ranked show in Live+7 ratings over the past 6 weeks has an average increase of 26%. This means that wrestling programming is doing worse than that. The last time any wrestling programming cracked the top 25 of Live+7 ratings was Raw on August 5th, 2019, when it had a gain of 29%, which was a total of 742k based on an average of 2.473 million for a total of 3.215 million. As some may remember, this was the night Goldberg returned to confront Dolph Ziggler regarding their match at SummerSlam, as well as the Fatal 4-Way Elimination match which saw Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross become the new Women’s Tag Team Champions.
I am certain that this is not what USA, TNT, and FOX want to hear just 8 weeks into their new contracts. This also shows that the overall viewership is definitely significantly lost and gone. It is also worth noting thought that numbers from Hulu, YouTube TV, and Playstation Vue are generally NOT included in ratings, but are likely to not make a significant impact. Sony has released some numbers regarding this programming, but they are typically around 100K or less for each show. Of any of those, Hulu would make the biggest impact. Hulu does have an option for reporting to Nielsen for ratings purposes, but users must opt into having them tracked for this purpose, and last I heard, only about 15% of users have done this. It is important to also note that NXT airs on the WWE Network 24 hours later, which is not tracked.
Based on everything I’ve seen, if I had to put a guess as to the actual average viewership of each program, it would likely be somewhere around this:
Raw: 3.25-3.5 million
Smackdown: 3.25-3.5 million
AEW: 1.5-1.75 million
NXT: 1.5-1.75 million
I am basing those numbers on the averages plus DVR plus potential of 25% of viewers streaming untracked. If those numbers are accurate, this would mean that viewership of WWE programming is down by about 35% to 40% from it’s peak in 1999. Yes, that is still significant, but better than the 65% to 70% drop.