Overall WWE attendance by QTR
All WWE Events in US & Canada (including TV & PPVs tapings - excludes WrestleMania)
source: WWE Key Performance Indicators Q2 2016
All WWE Events in US & Canada (house shows only)
source: Harrington Analysis of Wrestling Observer Newsletter Results section
It's interesting to note that there was only a 9% drop in 2016 North American WWE event attendance in Q1 and Q2 was flat to prior year. However, when you take out pay-per-view events and televised events, it was a 20% drop in Q1 and a 7% drop in Q2. My estimate for Q3 2016 was 4,000/show which would be another 7% drop.
WWE has changed their touring landscape through the brand split (Raw/Smackdown - bringing back Monday night house shows) and continues to raise ticket prices.
The absence of John Cena does seem to have some effect on 2016 House Show attendance. In prior years, the John Cena North American House Shows averaged more drawing about 5,700 in 2014 and 5,400 in 2015 compared to the non-Cena shows averages of 4,100 in 2014 and 4,500 in 2015. Cena has worked far fewer house shows in 2016 due injury and outside projects. His drawing power in his current position (feuding with AJ Styles) seems to be down -- 3,000/show for July-October compared to 4,100/show for non-Cena shows in the same time-frame.
In the last two years, there was six times where WWE drew less than 2,000 for a US House Show:
- 1/11/14 Glens Falls, NY (WWE - 1,800): main event: Handicap match: C.M. Punk b Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose
- 6/14/14 Grand Rapids, MI (WWE - 1,800): main event: U.S. title:Sheamus b Kane-DQ
- 6/21/15 Fort Wayne, IN (WWE - 1,500): main event: WWE title last man standing: Seth Rollins b Roman Reigns
- 9/6/15 Salisbury, MD (WWE - 1,500): main event: Street fight: Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt
- 9/6/15 Fairfax, VA (WWE - 1,800): main event: Street fight: John Cena b Kevin Owens
- 9/13/15 Jonesboro, AR (WWE - 1,200): main event: Street fight: Roman Reigns b Bray Wyatt
That's already happened six times in 2016 alone!
- 6/5/16 Lawton, OK (WWE - 1,500): main event: Dean Ambrose b Kevin Owens
- 7/16/16 Bangor, ME (WWE - 1,700): main event: Four way for U.S. title: Rusev won over Kalisto, Sami Zayn and Cesaro
- 7/17/16 Glens Falls, NY (WWE - 1,800): main event: Three-way for WWE title: Dean Ambrose won over Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens
- 8/26/16 Abilene (WWE - 1,800): main event: Three-way for WWE title: Dean Ambrose won over A.J. Styles and Bray Wyatt
- 10/3/16 Palm Springs, CA (WWE - 1,000): main event: Three-way for WWE title: A.J. Styles won over Dean Ambrose and John Cena
- 10/10/16 Reno, NV (WWE - 1,500): IC title: main event: Three-way for WWE title: A.J. Styles won over John Cena and Dean Ambrose
Count of WWE Events in US & Canada (house shows only)
source: Harrington Analysis of Cagematch.net results
The acceleration in US/Canada house show events look to be more in Q4. This year, we've already had 17 house shows in October while in years past there was less than ten (7 in 2014 and 9 in 2015). Since WWE house shows are generally profitable, WWE can continue to grow their live events revenue year-over-year despite declining attendance simply through raising ticket prices and running more events per quarter. There will be a limit though. International touring has been a boon in the past, and we may see WWE being able to leverage the split brands to better reach new or neglected marketplaces such as Asia Pacific or South America.