The usual look at the television numbers for this past Monday night doesn’t look that impressive. Despite a week promoting a WWE title match, Raw was still under two million viewers. The Mar. 1 episode average audience across its three hours was 1.88 million - roughly identical to the prior week’s Elimination Chamber fallout show featuring a new champion.
But we start to see how this week was different when we look at the hourly breakdown (via Showbuzz Daily)...
Hour one: 1,916,000
Hour two: 1,918,000
Hour three: 1,817,000
That slight uptick for the second hour is unusual, and the 5% drop from the 8 p.m. ET block to the 10 p.m. ET one is unusually small. Whether or not portraying then-WWE champion The Miz as sniveling coward was good for him, the belt or the man now holding it, Bobby Lashley, longterm is debatable. As Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer argues, that it got people to stick around for one night doesn’t appear to be.
Where it gets really interesting is when you drill down on what demographics this episode appealed to:
- WWE gave USA the best rated cable original in the coveted 18 - 49 year old demo by a large margin with a .58 average; Discovery’s Street Angels and Bravo’s Below Deck trailed it with a .34 and .33, respectively.
- The overall 18 - 34 year old audience was up a whopping 49% over the Feb. 22 Raw.
- Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics points out this is only one of a handful of times the red brand has done better than WWE’s Friday night show with the under 35 demo since SmackDown’s move to FOX.
- Meltzer notes the teenage male audience rose over the course of the night, up 9% from hour one to hour three.
So the show-long Miz/Lashley angle was a big factor. Was it the only one?
This is just one layperson’s supposition, but I’ve been reading a lot about how impressive metrics like social media engagement and merchandise sales are for 24/7 champ Bad Bunny. Some wrestling fans scoffed when the 26 year old Puerto Rican musician showed up at Royal Rumble, but he was the most streamed artist last year on one of the most popular services in the world. Bunny is a big deal, and he’s a big deal with the people who are suddenly watching Raw in bigger numbers.
Hook the kids with the cool guy whose songs they like, get them to stick around to see a d-bag get his butt kicked for the belt?
It’ll be interesting to see if WWE can keep their momentum going with the audiences advertisers covet. Seeing as they’re building a WrestleMania 37 program where the music superstar will probably kick the guy they were taught to hate for three hours’ ass, I actually like their chances - at least in the short-term.
For now, the folks in Stamford have to be pretty happy with what they just pulled off.