Almost every week that the two shows have been on the air, Raw tends to get more viewers than SmackDown Live. Even though both shows are live now and SmackDown is actually an hour shorter than Raw, it almost never wins out in the ratings.
However, for the holiday week, SmackDown actually managed to average more viewers than Monday Night Raw. As reported by Wrestling Inc, this Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown Live averaged 1.904 million viewers. That’s a decrease of 14 percent from last week’s episode, which drew a solid 2.214 million fans. Still, the drop was expected because the episode aired on a major holiday and was pre-taped.
Overall, SmackDown Live was fifth on cable for the night behind When Calls The Heart, and three different NBA games, which usually outperform WWE programming regardless of the holiday.
The big winner on network TV was the NBA Christmas special on ABC, which drew an impressive 7.974 million viewers.
The last time SmackDown beat Raw in the ratings was for the special 1,000th episode of the show, which had a number of special returns and matches that bumped up its ratings.
In total, since going live in July 2016, this is only the third time SmackDown Live has beaten Monday Night Raw in the ratings. Both other times were special episodes, so this is actually the first time SmackDown has put up more viewers than Raw with just a regular episode.
Raw aired on Christmas Eve, and SmackDown Live aired on Christmas Day. Additionally, both episodes were taped in advance, which means WWE fans were able to find out the results of the shows before they hit the airwaves.
The fact that fans knew most of what was going to happen on the show could explain why SmackDown was able to pull out the ratings win. Nothing of note happened on Raw this week, but on SmackDown Live, Rusev defeated Shinsuke Nakamura for the United States Championship (the third time he’s held the title). Presumably, quite a few more fans tuned into SmackDown to see the beloved performer take home the championship.
RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! RUSEV DAY! @RusevBUL is your NEWWWWW #USChampion on #SDLive! pic.twitter.com/ExKh7mxBaT— WWE (@WWE) December 26, 2018
The drop from last week of 14 percent for SmackDown Live was much lower than Raw, which decreased by 30 percent from the previous week.
The ratings this week definitely point out that, even with a pre-taped show, having an eventful show helps out in the ratings, especially when there’s a title change involved in the event.