WWE’s Declining Viewership Is Becoming A Big Problem

WWE’s ratings for RAW and Smackdown are both falling faster than the average decline for all of cable. According to the company’s 1st quarter earnings report (released today) RAW has decreased by 14% and Smackdown by 13%. By comparison, primetime viewership for top-25 cable networks only suffered a 5% decline since last year.

WWE Viewership Decline

WWE believes key talent absences are to blame for the falling ratings.

“Management believes that these (talent) absences continued to impact engagement in the first quarter 2019 as domestic TV ratings for Raw and SmackDown declined approximately 14% and 13%, respectively,” WWE’s earnings report reads. “Average attendance at the Company’s live events in North America declined 11%.”

Meanwhile, however, WWE’s engagement metrics for digital content has increased.

“WWE Network average paid subscribers increased 2% and digital video consumption increased 23%.”

WWE’s Declining Ratings

Despite the declining ratings, the company is in a healthy spot financially. They have diverse revenue streams and a new television contract set to begin in the fall.

Another issue the company is dealing with, however, is that viewership for RAW and Smackdown drop hour over hour as the show airs as well. Both episodes of RAW since WrestleMania saw a decline in ratings as the show aired.

This week’s episode of RAW saw the following decline (courtesy of ShowbuzzDaily):

  • 1st hour: 2.68 million
  • 2nd hour: 2.296 million
  • 3rd hour: 2.146 million

WWE believes the returning talent and new storylines will turn the ratings around.

“Looking to the future, management believes the Company’s engagement metrics will improve with the return of its talent, the emergence of new storylines and new Superstars, and as the Company launches a new season of WWE following a successful WrestleMania,” the earnings report continues.