So three weeks in, what’s the deal with the ratings newzzz!!!
The first week they did 1.409 million, then fell to 1.14 million in week two and to 1.014 million in week three. That’s a 28 percent drop in two weeks, which has caused some people to get worried. After all it was largely thought by some of AEW’s biggest supporters that the opposite would happen, that once the show started and people got to see this new company that was going to push the business forward from the perceived (and in some instances real) stagnation that had taken place with the WWE as the only major player on the board. But that hasn’t happened and instead they’ve been treated by viewers the way they do most other TV shows with numbers dropping from their debut episode. And now the first signs of panic have come in the form of an article on PWInsider explaining just how people need to go about watching in order to get the ratings back up.
As someone who has had no shortage of criticism towards AEW let me say…….relax. As the boss here Greg Demarco, I and several others have pointed out, they are in absolutely no danger of losing their TV slot. To reiterate a point that’s been made by all of us, TNT did not have a single show in the top 150 on Wednesday night before AEW debuted. This week AEW was fifth in the ratings, after being eighth last week and second the week before. Trust me, they are fine. As long as they stay in that 150 TNT will be happy. For some further context the portion of the simulcast from week two on TruTV that got 122,000 viewers finished in the top 150 on it’s own, so they’d have to fall below that to even be in danger. Just like with Raw and SmackDown, it’s way too early to start firing off the doom and gloom tweets and think pieces. Like years too early.
A few things to keep in mind when you read those ratings reports…..
Don’t read them on a wrestling website
At least 90 percent of the ratings talk on the internet is garbage. Go to a website that talks about television and puts things in proper context instead. Winning the demo is more important that the total audience number, for example, and being on opposite major sporting events or a huge news story is always going to take a bite out of your numbers. Anyone that doesn’t share that in their assessment and only focuses on the total audience number is being extremely disingenuous with you so don’t give them the clicks or shares they desire. If it’s a twitter account that you feel you have to address then respond directly and don’t RT them to give them more reach or potential followers, which is what they want.
Rating don’t equal viewership
The Nielsen ratings don’t tell us anything close to what they used to. They are a measure of how many people are watching a particular show during it’s first run on television during it’s official time slot on broadcast television. That’s it. They don’t count people who DVR and watch it later (there is a category for that but they don’t count for our purposes here), or watch it on Hulu, or stream it, or pirate it, or who watch the clips on YouTube, or in the case of WWE programming who watch it on the Network later. In the case of AEW there is a replay that airs right after the first run that doesn’t count towards the live number either (and it would be wrong to try and add that audience in because a lot of them are people who watched the first run just like with Nitro back in the day, or fell asleep with the channel on, etc.).
And for comparison’s sake the same logic applies to NXT in that that it’s on the WWE Network 24 hours later, people DVR it and watch it after they watch watch Dynamite live, etc. A lot of us have been making this argument for years in regards to Raw and SmackDown to deaf ears, so maybe now that there’s an entity whose success you are invested in it will take hold. The overnight ratings are a measure of who is watching a show during it’s live timeslot on the broadcast channel itself. That is all and nothing more. And yes that matters to advertisers but to the networks the main things are whether or not a show is profitable, does it reach a particular audience that’s good for the network, and is it doing better than anything else they could put there.
Ratings don’t equal quality
The Wire is considered in a lot of circles to be one of the best television shows ever created. It also had a really low viewership and would have been canceled in its first season had it not been on HBO, a network devoted to prestige television. On the other hand Love and Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, etc are among the highest rated shows on cable every week. The NFL Pro Bowl, maybe the worst professional football that makes it on TV, gets a bigger audience than the NBA playoffs which most observers say is the best basketball out there. If you’re of the belief that AEW’s Dynamite is better than Raw, SmackDown, or NXT and consequently should be on the road to out rating all of them then I imagine you’re somewhat perplexed at the downward trend. But you shouldn’t be, because that’s just how these things go.
There’s no objective way to judge quality anyway. Some people like certain shows because they’re trashy, after all. So do not despair because the total audience numbers do not reflect what the people who watch the show actually think of the show itself. The first to second week drop was to be expected as some people who made it a point to tune in for the premiere either didn’t stick around or switched up their viewing time to the replay or on DVR, and the second to third week drop wasn’t anything horrible. As the NBA season gets underway both AEW and NXT will likely lose some of it’s total audience and demo numbers, so if a big hit comes over the next couple week you should just shrug that off, too. That’s going to happen no matter how good either or both shows are just like how Raw loses viewers during football season to Monday Night Football and during April and May to the NCAA championship and NBA playoffs. And as you should not attribute those losses to the quality of WWE’s Monday night programming (although lots of you do), you shouldn’t treat any lost viewers on Wednesday nights as if AEW or NXT is failing to meet some standards of it’s intended audience.
So in closing…..just let it go. They’re not in trouble. You’ll know that’s a problem if the replay gets cancelled or they get cut from two hours to one or get moved to Saturday or something, which for the foreseeable future has zero chance of happening. As far as getting more people to watch, that’s on the guys who run the company and not you. If you’re enjoying it keep watching it and if anyone asks you about it talk it up. But do not seek validation of what you like in the viewing habits of other people because that’s just a losing battle. The idea that if it’s good enough they’ll come is misguided; the reality is that they’ll come if they’re convinced to come and nothing more, no matter how good you and your contemporaries think it is.