Wednesday, December 04, 2013

WWE RAW Viewers in the 3 Hour Era (July 23 2012 to Dec 2 2013) Analysis

Raw Data (some pun intended) was pulled from TV By the Numbers and Wrestling Observer

Notes on Special RAW Shows during these 72 weeks
  • July 23 2012 was also the RAW 1,000 Special which was heavily hyped (6 million viewers)
  • August 6 2012 was Shawn Michaels Appreciation Night (4.36 million viewers)
  • Dec 17 2012 was 2012 Slammy Awards (4.23 million viewers)
  • Dec 24 2012 was aired on Christmas Eve (RAW Christmas Special) (3.14 million viewers)
  • Dec 31 2012 was aired on New Years Eve (Champions Choice) (3.55 million viewers)
  • January 14 2013 was 20th Anniversary Special (4.55 million viewers)
  • January 28 2013 was 2013 Raw Roulette (5.02 million viewers)
  • March 4 2013 was WWE Old School (5.01 million viewers)
Most Common Viewership Patterns:
It's evenly split between the first hour being the weakest (34 weeks) and the final hour being the weakest (34 weeks).  It's exceptionally rare to have the middle hour have the lowest viewership (only happened in 2013 during 5/6, 6/17, 9/30 and 10/7 shows).

Quarterly Averages

All 3-hour RAWs since 7/23/12 Included:

(Also, you can compare the numbers when you take out some of the unusual episode (1,000 episode, Xmas Eve, NYE, 20th Anniversary, Old School.)

Two observations about the 4th Quarter (September to December):

  • It's not uncommon to see such a weak fourth quarter - more than half a million viewers typically return after the start of the year during the key Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania season.
  • It's very rare that the final hour has most viewers in the fourth quarter- out of 23 weeks, only once (10/7/13) was the final hour had the most viewers. It's much more common that the final hour has the highest viewership in the 2nd and 3rd quarters (almost 30% of the shows).
The "post-PPV bump"

In general, Viewership goes up 3% to 4% the day after a PPV as loyal fans and the loyal non-purchasers (an ever increasing number it seems) tune in to find out what happened at last night's event.  If you exclude many of the unusual PPVs listed above, my estimate is about +170,000 viewers tune in. The biggest overall improvement comes in the 1st hour (+219,000 viewers; +5.5%) as compared to the 2nd hour (+160,000 viewers; +3.8%) or 3rd hour (+130,000 viewers; +3.2%).

The size of the bump is also tied to the importance of the PPV - for instance, the RAW episode following an A-level PPV (Royal Rumble, Summer Slam or especially Wrestlemania) is almost +400,000 people versus another normal Q1/Q2/Q3 episode.  However, the RAW episode following a B-level PPV is substantially weaker (about +100,000 for the first hour but no substantial gain for second or third hours).

The last 34 weeks have not reflected a great trend for WWE - particularly with their RAW and Smackdown Contract Negotiations looming as a major milestone in 2014.  However, what is the most important question is whether or not we'll see viewership return to robust Q1 levels, or whether the fatigue of 180+ minutes of weekly Raw is just too much for television for anyone beyond the hardcores.

Some more stats for those that care:

Really seems clear that viewers have finally been trained to tune in early (8 pm) to catch the post-PPV action.

Chris Harrington (@mookieghana) is working on his first book, Wrestlenomics—a collection of pro-wrestling analytics and statistics. He can be reached at and regularly updates his wrestling statistics website and his blog

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