WWE and AEW viewership are headed in two very different directions this summer.
AEW Dynamite viewership was down 4% from last week, drawing 938,000 viewers for a broadcast headlined by Chris Jericho vs. Wheeler Yuta, in addition to The Acclaimed vs. The Gunn Club in a tag team Dumpster Match. AEW Dynamite garnered a 0.32 rating in the 18-49 demo. AEW Dynamite was No. 1 on cable.
Dynamite’s viewership slide caps off a rough week of ratings news for AEW after the struggling AEW Rampage drew a scary low 375,000 viewers. Rampage’s number was down 12%, and the 0.11 rating in 18-49 represents its lowest rating in history.
AEW Dynamite has had just two shows draw over one million viewers since March 23, 2022, with the last million-viewer show being the Blood and Guts special since June 29. AEW Dynamite drew 1,102 million viewers for a homecoming special for the August 4, 2021 broadcast, which represents a % year-over-year decline.
Amid a string of daunting ratings, AEW Dynamite was recently No. 1 on cable for five-weeks in a row. The streak ended last week as the show finished No. 2 behind Yankees vs. Mets, however Dynamite started a new streak with last night’s broadcast topping the cable charts.
Warner Bros Discovery
Budget Cuts Could Hurt AEW
The bad news for AEW doesn’t end with ratings as Warner Bros. Discovery enacts a grim plan for massive layoffs in an attempt to save no less than $3 billion, though that number could be even higher.
“If you’re an AEW fan, the last two days, not good news at all,” said Dave Meltzer of the Warner Bros. Discovery budget cuts on Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Cagesideseats.com)
“We knew that [WBD was] gonna do slashing of the budgets, but it really feels like…the prestige programming that TNT had, that’s gonna be out the window. I just have this feeling, apart from the NBA, that TNT [and TBS] is just gonna be another station on cable…it looks like they just want to slash things, and CNN too for that matter. They’re slashing everything.”
Meltzer went on to note that the massive cuts and layoffs do not bode well for AEW’s next television rights deal, which will be a pivotal moment for the promotion ahead of what will be a star-studded free agency period beginning in 2024.
Despite the increasing budget cuts, AEW seems to be in a solid place with Warner Bros. Discovery executives. Tony Khan revealed Warner Bros. Discovery executives were in attendance for the historic June 1 broadcast of AEW Dynamite in Inglewood, Calif. In a May 27 tweet, Khan described a meeting with Warner Bros. Discovery executives as “one of the most fulfilling of [his] life.”
As bullish as Khan is about AEW’s standing with Warner Bros. Discovery, it’s fair to question just how big of an increase the promotion will receive under a new regime making such deep cost cuts.
WWE and AEW Ratings | July 29, 2022 – August 4, 2022
- WWE SmackDown on July 29, 2022 | 2,193 million; 0.52 18-49 rating
- AEW Rampage on July 29, 2022 | 375,000; 0.11 18-49 rating
- WWE Raw on August 1, 2022 | 2,230 million; 0.61 18-49 rating
- WWE NXT on August 2, 2022 | 649,000; 0.15 18-49 rating
- AEW Dynamite on August 4, 2022 | 938,000; 0.32 18-49 rating
As AEW’s viewership continues to crater, WWE viewership is surging in the wake of Vince McMahon’s retirement/resignation and the dawning of a new era before our eyes. The July 22, 2022 broadcast of SmackDown—which coincided with Vince McMahon’s retirement announcement—received a massive gain in viewership with 2.256 million viewers. This represented a 9% increase in viewership, while the 809,000 viewers (0.62) in the 18-49 key demo represents a 32% increase from the week before.
This was SmackDown’s highest 18-49 rating since January 21.
The following week, SmackDown’s July 29 broadcast drew 2.193 million viewers for the SummerSlam go-home show. While this number was expectedly down from the historic broadcast from the week prior, SmackDown viewership was up 8% compared to the other three weeks in July.
WWE surrounded its ratings momentum into this week’s a post-SummerSlam edition of WWE Raw. Bolstered by a commercial-free first hour, the post-SummerSlam bounce and curiosity for Triple H’s creative vision, WWE Raw did a monster number with a viewership of 2.230 million, up a whopping 17% from last week. Raw’s 796,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo (0.61) represented a 23% increase. WWE NXT, which also benefited from limited commercials, received a residual bounce as well with 649,000 viewers.
WWE NXT drew 196,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo. NXT was up 8% and 15% in total viewership and 18-49 viewership, respectively, and the key demo number was its best since June 21.
With the momentum firmly on WWE’s side, things will only continue to get interesting during the WWE vs. AEW wrestling wars as WWE NXT is set to go head-to-head with AEW All Out on September 4. After losing to AEW in the Wednesday Night Wars, Triple H has exactly one month reload NXT into the type of product that can compete with an AEW pay-per-view competing for the a similar hardcore wrestling audience.