The WWE has seen historically-low ratings this year, and a recent episode was viewed by the fewest number of people in two decades.
According to Forbes, July 4th’s episode of Monday Night Raw was viewed by fewer than 2 million people, which has not happened in 20 years. It is now among the three lowest-rated episodes in the history of Raw.
It might not be surprising to see viewers fail to tune in for the Fourth of July show, but this number is still incredibly low compared to other July 4th episodes. Last year, about 3.5 million people tuned in to the Fourth of July episode.
And it’s not just the July 4th show that suggests the WWE is losing viewers. Monday Night Raw has experienced several other incredibly low rated episodes over the past year; the June 13, 2016 episode of the show sank to a 2.03 rating, a 19-year low. Before that, the May 9th episode hit the second-lowest ratings since 1997.
What exactly is happening? Why is the WWE losing so many viewers lately? Some have blamed Roman Reigns, saying that viewers are getting sick of him, although that doesn’t explain the July 4th drop seeing as Reigns was not in attendance that evening. Others have blamed all three former members of The Shield, noting that at some point during the reign of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, the show has hit record lows.
Still others have suggested that the declining ratings are simply a result of a larger trend of consumers getting rid of cable and watching content through the Internet. Case in point: the WWE’s streaming service, WWE Network, has been quite lucrative for the company, bringing them $154 million per year, according to Inquistr. Raw also still brings in about $1 million in ad revenue every week.
Plus, Vince McMahon has said that ratings are not really as important as they used to be, saying that consumers in general aren’t watching as much live television these days, according to Forbes.
What remains to be seen is if the upcoming brand split will give the WWE a ratings boost; particularly worth paying attention to will be the company’s draft event taking place live on SmackDown on July 19th. They are clearly hoping to draw more viewers to that program than have tuned in in the past, as SmackDown in recent years has been seen as relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of the WWE. Going forward, superstars will be split between both shows so that both Raw and SmackDown are seen as equally vital.
It is rumored that Roman Reigns will be the new face of Monday Night Raw while John Cena will be the new face of SmackDown, although nothing will be officially confirmed until the July 19th draft show. Even then we might not have all the answers quite yet, as Roman Reigns does not return from suspension until later in the month.