WWE Raw is facing a pessimistic future after yet another negative ratings report and the reality of where the show is positioned in cable’s top 25.
The numbers came out for Raw‘s Oct. 12 episode, and it was not good.
According to TV By the Numbers, WWE not only continued to slump, but it wasted away from hour one to hour three.
In the kickoff hour, the show registered 3.518 million viewers; in hour two, the number fell to 3.254 million; and in the final “main event” hour, it dropped to 3.082 million.
While the show averaged 3.28 million viewers and earned a 2.33 cable rating, that’s a drop from last week’s 2.35 on 3.38 million viewers, which was already a concerning number for the company and, as WrestleView points out, just a little ahead of the Sept. 28 all-time low (2.32 rating).
The numbers show that fans are losing interest from the opening graphic to the weekly “big match” — this week, it was Demon Kane vs. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins — and considering these “slum” ratings have been going for more than a month, it’s not a sign conducive to longevity.
Considering that Longmire posted around 5.6 million viewers in its third season and was promptly canceled by A&E, these numbers definitely aren’t where they should be.
Perhaps most concerning, however, is where WWE Raw is positioned within cable’s top 25.
As long as it remains in the top 25, analysts believe it can continue to command favorable terms with USA Network.
Currently, Raw ratings have the show sitting in the bottom half at No. 19, and there is no indication that the program has reached its “floor.”
What does all this mean?
Well, it’s still doing well enough that you don’t have to be worried about it getting canceled tomorrow. However, the 10-year outlook is considerably more grim, and it’s something WWE needs to be concerned with now instead of later.
If USA Network did drop WWE Raw from its lineup, it would still be attractive enough for a player like SpikeTV to pick up.
But this ratings problem has shown that it isn’t a passing thing.
The show has been dipping lower and lower since the “Monday Night Wars” of the late 1990s and early — very early — 2000s when WWE and WCW were pulling four and five cable ratings on a regular basis, according to ProWrestling Wiki.
Near the end — in 2000 — Raw even registered a few 6.8s, which, compared to the 2.33 of Oct. 12’s show, speaks volumes.
While the Monday Night Wars were different times and the TV/Internet viewing audience wasn’t as fragmented as it is today, it’s still cause for concern because, as Paul Heyman pointed out in an Inquisitr article last week, the company isn’t doing a good job of making new fans to replace the ones leaving for other interests.
In fact, the company can’t even afford to use audience fragmentation as an excuse. It should be even more concerned because of that.
While the WWE Network’s original programming seems to be aware of this fact, the company cannot exist on the Network alone.
It needs to be visible in other venues, and if WWE Raw starts looking less attractive to cable networks or streaming services, then the deals the company negotiates will get smaller and smaller.
Vince McMahon and company cannot afford to wait the 10 years alluded to in the headline above. They need to be growing that vision now, and it’s doubtful a cannibalized Raw viewership was part of the plan.
But what do you think, readers? Can Raw survive another 10 years on the current course?
[Image via WWE Raw screen grab]