WWE has been in a ratings freefall over the last year, continually hitting the lowest figures the company recorded in modern history. This week they managed to do it yet again, averaging 2.16 million viewers – the lowest ever recorded for a non-football season show.
The show dropped 9% on just last weeks record-low of 2.37 million. The hourly viewership looked like this:
Hour 1: 2.34 Million
Hour 2: 2.24 Million
Hour 3: 1.90 Million
This represents an 18.8% drop in viewership from the first to third hour of Raw, garnering under 2 million viewers for the first time in a non-holiday show.
If these are the viewership figures outside of the NFL season then WWE are in for some rocky months ahead when the season kicks off as they are already struggling to compete with the NBA playoffs which beat WWE in the ratings this week with 3.64 Million viewers.
These ratings represent a 29.4% decline on Raw ratings from this time last year. This is far above the average year to year decline that WWE acknowledged in their Q1 report last week, where they stated a 14% decline.
For reference, at the same time Raw was on the reality show Love and Hip Hop Atlanta gained a bigger ratings share among cable originals than the highest hour of Raw, and also outdrew them in the coveted 18-34 demo, whilst the NBA playoffs took the night.
These are concerning figures for sure for WWE with the Fox TV deal on the horizon and show no signs of improving right now. This is despite Vince McMahon stating last week that engagement was only down due to talent injuries, and that they had all of that talent back in the fold now.
Today, WWE released their full first quarter earnings report for 2019 and they make for some interesting reading. Revenues were $182.4 million, down from $187.7 million in 2018 Q1. The company’s net income was reported as a loss of $8.4 million, compared to a net income of $14.8 million last year. The company says this decrease was driven primarily by a reduction in live event ticket sales and merchandise sales.
WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon said
“…While engagement metrics over the past two quarters were impacted by Superstar absences, we believe they will improve as our talent return and we launch our new season following a successful WrestleMania. We remain excited about the future, particularly with our debut on Fox in October.”
Key points of the report include the following:
TV ratings for Raw were down approximately 14% whilst Smackdown was down 13% from 2018 Q1
The average decline of the top 25 cable networks was 5%
Live event attendance was down 11% from last year in North America, with no international figures.
The average attendance was 4,800 and ticket price was $52.38
The WWE Network paid subscribers increased an average of 2% from last year and the day after Wrestlemania total subscribers hit 2.0 million
The WWE is still promoting the second incarnation of the WWE Network, stating:
“The Company’s primary focus for WWE Network is the launch of its new platform in partnership with Endeavor Streaming and Massive. This new platform will provide flexibility to bring new features and experiences to the Company’s fans”
Undertaker and Kurt Angle have pulled out of Starrcast 2 over the weekend of AEW’s Double or Nothing.
The events organiser Conrad Thompson has said in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated:
“thanks to the influence of WWE, the performers are missing out on substantial income and the fans are being punished.”
He also noted that he was informed that Vince McMahon was not happy with Undertaker having taken the booking but that the ‘heat’ was not on Conrad or Starrcast but that Undertaker just shouldn’t be doing non-WWE approved appearances.
The new contracts signed by Taker and Kurt allow WWE to withhold talents from events which do not best serve the company’s interests and they have exercised that right.
This follows from Undertaker having to be pulled from his UK Tour Q&A with inside the ropes last week, undertaking only a photo-op and not the originally planned on-stage portion of the show.
Thompson notes that WWE have assured him damaged would be covered and they would find a suitable replacement or other such compromise.
He has also stated that he had approached Shawn Michaels for a possible appearance but he was not comfortable with it due to the close proximity to the AEW event.
AEW’s Double or Nothing PPV takes place on May 25th from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and Conrads Starrcast 2 event takes place the same weekend from Caesars Palace and the Tuscany Suites.
MKE Wrestling last night ran an event in West Allis, Wisconsin – during which a masked individual did a run-in at the end of a match hitting a GTS.
Ring of Honor star and the founder of MKE wrestling Tweeted out last night saying:
It has been speculated that the masked man was indeed a Punk, CM Punk that is, as pictures have shown Punk wearing the same clothes as seen in the video earlier that day in the same city at a wrestling tournament.
The last time Punk was seen in a wrestling ring was the 2014 Royal Rumble, before he made his exit the next night. Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com is however reporting that his sources have indicated this is not the first time Punk has done this kind of thing, having appeared under a hood for Colt Cabana at some point prior to their legal issues.
Stay tuned here and on Twitter for the latest in this story
Luke Harper has today released a statement to say that he has requested his release from WWE. The statement reads:
“As of this evening, I have requested a release from WWE. The past 6 years have been a simply, amazing journey around the world and back with lifelong friends and family. I am proud to say I shared the ring with my co workers.
This decision, as difficult as it was, feels right for myself and WWE. My goal in the future is to continue to grow as a performer and person and continue to make my family proud.
Thank you. From the top to the bottom of WWE. Thank you to the fans for your undying support. Thank you everyone.”
Luke Harper has been on the shelf for quite some time after undergoing surgery due to a wrist injury following the Bludgeon Brothers last 135 day reign as Smackdown Tag Team champions.
Harper’s last matches were over Wrestlemania weekend, firstly competing against Dominik Dijakovic at Wrestlemania Axxess as part of the Worlds Collide special, and also as part of the Wrestlmania 35 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Harper is perhaps best known as a member of the Wyatt Family which made their debut in November 2012 in NXT and moved over on to the WWE main roster in July 2013.
Harper had been cleared to wrestler since February this year but had been unused for a long time. He took to Twitter earlier this months to vent about this fact:
What should be remembered is that because a superstar requests for their release it does not necessarily mean they will be granted it should WWE choose to keep them under contract.
News that Undertaker was taking outside bookings made big news earlier this year when it was announced that he would appear at Starrcast during the weekend of AEW’s Double or Nothing event in Las Vegas.
Undertaker has similarly been booked on a UK tour set to take place later this month but this has since changed from a Q&A event to an autograph and photo session. The Q&A portion of this upcoming UK tour, ran by Inside the Ropes, is instead being fulfilled by Mick Foley.
Undertaker will likely no longer be able to make any more third party bookings as a result of this new deal but is said to have pushed hard to stick to his announced bookings.
It has been previously reported that The Undertakers’ appearance at Starrcast caused a lot of unease within WWE, and in particular with Vince McMahon. This new deal is likely a result of the recent outside appearance Undertaker was making as Vince has historically been extremely protective of maintaining the gimmick behind the Undertaker character.
Taker made his return to Monday Night Raw this past week, interrupting and attacking Elias. He will be appearing at WWE’s next Saudi Arabia show, which is expected to be held in June this year.