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Raw’s numbers declined as America’s attention turned to Damar Hamlin

Fans Gather Outside Highmark Stadium Following Hospitalization of Buffalo Bills Player Damar Hamlin Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

We thought it was going to be back to normal for Raw on Jan. 2. After a week off for a “Best of” clip show, WWE kicked off the new year — and the Road to Royal Rumble — with two title matches.

They knew they’d be up against a highly-anticipated late season Monday Night Football game. They didn’t know that an unprecedented (for the modern day NFL, at least) player health issue would force the Buffalo Bills/Cincinnati Bengals game to be suspended as even non-sports fans tuned in hoping for news about the condition of Bills’ player Damar Hamlin after he went into cardiac arrest on the field in Cincy.

Raw ended up averaging 1,605,000 viewers per hour, with a .41 rating among 18-49 year olds. Both are down from Dec. 19 (the last live episode made up of mostly new content).

The Disney networks were gearing up for a big MNF anyway; Bills/Bengals was airing on ABC, ESPN & ESPN2. It had more than 23 million viewers and a 6.24 in the demo combined across the three channels. ESPN’s ongoing coverage after the game was cancelled (the edition of SportsCenter scheduled for midnight started at 10:10pm ET) was watched by 5.2 million people, with a 1.57 in 18-49.

The hourly numbers tell the story. WWE’s struggled with holding viewers on Monday nights, but these were extraordinary circumstances. Hamlin collapsed on the Paycor Stadium field at approximately 8:55pm ET.

Hour One: 1.83 million / .46
Hour Two: 1.6 million / .42
Hour Three: 1.39 million / .36

Wrestlenomics points out that the drops weren’t historic (the Dec. 5 episode was the first to ever have a 28% first-to-third hour decline), but they were larger than average. Monday’s viewership dropped 24% from the 8pm ET block to the 10pm one.

It was a big sports day across the board as many Americans got their day off work for the New Year’s holiday, too. College football and the NHL’s Winter Classic outdoor game also took place on Jan. 2, and the entire cable originals top ten was sports coverage. Raw finished 11th there.

Next Monday they should be facing the college football National Championship Game. We’ll see what happens ratings-wise. In general, we’ll just continue to hope the news about Damar continues to be positive.

Numbers via Showbuzz Daily

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