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June 24, 2024

TV ratings an outdated way of measuring success in wrestling

On Friday, it was revealed that AEW Dynamite drew a record-low viewing. According to Programming Insider, the flagship show drew 502,000 viewers, the lowest-ever rating for a "non-preempted" show in Dynamite history.

Fightful Select reported that AEW isn't panicking. 

"Fightful Select spoke with AEW sources about their feelings on the number and how they rationalized it. We were told that the typical lead-in for AEW, Big Bang Theory, usually does a demo number of 200-250k for their final quarter-hour. This week's lead-in was Black Panther, which they said landed at under 85k in the demo for the final quarter-hour, a significant drop-off. They believe that the missing people were the lead in watchers that didn't exist this week."

Regardless of the reasoning, judging a wrestling show's success based on live television viewers is an antiquated mindset. AEW also airs via Triller TV. Millions of people worldwide consume the show via the streaming platform, either live or on demand. Those numbers aren't part of the rating data and thus show a skewed metric.

Of course, live television viewers within the United States are important when negotiating a new deal due to the money on offer. Tony Khan must show his programming can draw and retain viewers if he wants to increase revenue. 

Nevertheless, WWE's imminent move to Netflix shows how little single-country metrics matter. WWE's chief content officer, Paul Levesque, better known as "Triple H," understands that the move will open programming to a worldwide audience without additional cable packages.

Khan likely has similar views. He has previously discussed how well AEW does in Europe and other parts of the world. While that argument will have no value to his contract discussions with Warner Brothers Discovery, it is a sign of the changing media landscape. AEW could eventually join a streaming giant like Amazon Prime to escape the consistent battle for live-viewer ratings.

As viewers' consumption habits continue to change, wrestling fans, analysts and critics must follow suit. Live television isn't as ubiquitous as it once was. Streaming is now king. Half a million viewers, with a changed lead-in, is still a strong number. Factor in worldwide viewers, and AEW likely broke the 1 million mark.

It won't happen soon, but AEW must follow WWE's lead and sign with a streaming giant. They will only escape the constant criticism for a metric that tells less than half the full story. 

source: yardbarker.com


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