WWE Raw Ratings Drop Continues: Second Lowest Numbers Since 1997

The WWE Raw ratings free fall continues more than a month removed from WrestleMania 32 with the company seeing a landmark low for its flagship program that airs on Monday nights.

WrestleView reports that the May 9 broadcast averaged only 3.24 million viewers across its three-hour runtime.

This total is a drop of approximately 190,000 viewers from the previous week’s average of 3.43 million viewers.

The hourly breakdowns showed a slight increase from hour one to hour two, but plummeted during hour three’s main event. However, all three hours were down from the previous week with the chronological breakdown going like this.

Hour one: 3.345 million, down from 3.458 million the week prior.

Hour two: 3.356 million, down from 3.457 million the week prior.

Hour three: 3.013 million, down from 3.383 million the week prior.

Nielsen’s final Raw ratings number was 1.13 among adults 18 to 49, down from 1.23 the previous week. That said, the program finished No. 3 for the night on cable just behind the NBA’s playoff games, which drew 6.158 million viewers and 4.007 million.

While that may seem like a measure of consolation, it is important to put in perspective the downward trajectory of Raw ratings since WrestleMania 32.

The April 4 broadcast drew an average of 4 million viewers across all three hours, which was down year-to-year from the post-WrestleMania 31 show that averaged 5 million.

Each week thereafter, Raw ratings have consistently fallen to the current number, which also happens to be the second-lowest number of overall viewers since a 1997 episode during the Monday Night Football season.

As if that isn’t enough evidence of just how far WWE’s flagship has fallen over the years, Raw ratings during the so-called “Monday Night Wars” between WWE and the now-defunct WCW routinely saw Nielsen finals in the 6.0s, 7.0s, and once even breaking 8.0.

Compare that to the 1.13 where it now sits, and it’s apparent that WWE’s product is increasingly appealing to a niche market.

This is something that former wrestling manager Jim Cornette bemoaned on the latest episode of his podcast The Jim Cornette Experience when he alluded to the old Memphis wrestling programs between legends of the ring Sputnik Monroe and Billy Wickes.

As the two men feuded throughout the Memphis territory, they would routinely draw 10,000 or more just for standard house shows.

Now WWE is lucky to get that for their nationally broadcast weeklies. While they generally do better for special events — WrestleMania 32 set a new in-person attendance record for the company at more than 100,000 — it’s not the norm.

Cornette’s profanity-filled tirade isn’t repeatable here in verbatim, but the gist of his complaint is that back when professional wrestling was treated with respect by its bookers and performers — something he feels doesn’t exist in the current WWE product — the entire industry was booming.

It didn’t matter which company you were a part of. If you had the right card, you could easily book sellout crowds or outdoor stadiums. Since WWE became the only major player in town, they have shrunk the industry to where indies are now confined to rec halls and school cafeterias, Cornette said.

Cornette’s arguments offer a microcosm of the current Raw ratings problem. When the company was slugging it out week-to-week with WCW — sometimes winning, sometimes losing — it was always performing at a higher level than the product is today with it being the only game in town.

In a sense, WWE may have become a victim of its own success, winning internal wars but tanking the industry that built it, so to speak.

But what do you think, readers?

Are these latest Raw ratings numbers indicative that professional wrestling is on the way out in terms of popularity? And do you think WWE can do anything to get general audiences back to the product, or has that ship sailed? Sound off in the comments section.

[Image via WWE]