USA Network, the NBCUniversal-owned cable channel which is now home to Raw and SmackDown, this morning (Dec. 16) celebrating its 11th consecutive year as the “ad-supported cable entertainment network” with the most viewers.
That’s a bit of creative marketing to keep them in categories separate from pay channels like HBO and sports networks like ESPN, but its still a nice feat - and one for which USA gives WWE a lot of credit.
Here’s the main body of the press release and the WWE-specific highlights:
USA NETWORK SET TO MAKE TV HISTORY AS #1 AD-SUPPORTED ENTERTAINMENT CABLE NETWORK IN TOTAL VIEWERS FOR 11TH CONSECUTIVE YEAR
NEW YORK - December 15, 2016 - USA Network is on track to end 2016 as the most watched ad-supported cable entertainment network for an 11th consecutive year -- the longest streak at #1 for a cable or broadcast network in the history of Nielsen metered measurement. Driven by hit new and returning series including COLONY, QUEEN OF THE SOUTH, SHOOTER, MR. ROBOT, SUITS and CHRISLEY KNOWS BEST and two nights per week of live action with WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW and WWE SMACKDOWN LIVE, USA delivered an average of 1.68MM total viewers P2+ for the year.
In 4th Quarter 2016, USA is also on track to be up +5% vs. last year -- one of only three Top 10 networks to show year over year ratings growth among the key 18-49 demo. "We are so proud to end 2016 at #1 for the 11th straight year," said Chris McCumber, President, Entertainment Networks for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. "USA's enduring success is a testament to not only our amazing team, but to a strong programming lineup that continues to deliver a devoted audience at scale year after year."
HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2016 INCLUDE:
· USA was the #1 cable entertainment network on Monday nights with P18-49 and P2+, with the three-hour live WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW garnering an average of 3.7MM total viewers P2+.
· Since moving to Tuesday nights in July, WWE SMACKDOWN LIVE saw double-digit increases: +25% P18-49 and +12% P2+, helping USA rank as the #1 cable entertainment network in its timeslot in those demos. Versus year-ago ratings, SMACKDOWN is up +46% among P18-49 and +17% among P2+.
Ratings are unlikely to ever again reach their Attitude Era/Monday Night War heights, and WWE shareholders can’t be thrilled with how that (among other things, like their own streaming service) has effected the money Vince McMahon and team can get for broadcast rights, but this kind of press is always welcome. Especially as it likely helps make further inroads with mainstream advertisers.
Evaluations of WWE’s business prospects vary greatly these days, so they’ll undoubtedly take NBC being a happy partner as a good sign. Will it change anything at the negotiating table?
Time will tell.