As previously reported, WWE announced their earnings for the second quarter of 2019 today.
Television ratings for both RAW and SmackDown were down double digits from the prior year quarter. RAW averaged a 1.99 rating, down 14% from 2.33 in 2018. SmackDown averaged a 1.7 rating for Q2, down 11% from 1.91 in the same period last year. The decline in television ratings for both shows exceeded the 8% drop in cable television ratings during the same quarter.
WWE Co-President George Barrios did see some positives regarding the television ratings. It was noted that the decline in ratings was getting better as the quarter went on. While RAW was down 21% in April from the prior year quarter, it was down 8% in May and 11% in June. SmackDown Live was down 19% in April, 8% in May and 7% in June from the same period last year. During the quarter, cable tv ratings were down 12% in April, 9% in May and 7% in June, so the declines for RAW and SmackDown in May and June were more in line with cable.
WWE also compared the decline from Q1 to June alone, stating that RAW ratings declined 14% in Q1 from the prior year quarter, but “improved to a year-over-year decline of 11% in June.” The same goes for SmackDown, which “declined 13% in the first quarter 2019, but improved to a decline of 7% in June, consistent with the ratings performance of the top 25 cable networks, which declined 7% during the month.”
It should be noted that ratings for Q2 were still down 8.3% from Q1 for RAW and 4% for SmackDown.
“We have definitely turned the corner,” WWE CEO Vince McMahon said. “We have Executive Directors for each brand now. Notwithstanding that we have spent more time on storylines, good ones, and also talent development. It’s a combination of a lot of things all good things thus far coming together in what I’d guess I’d call a relaunch in regards to our content.”
One thing that I’ve noticed in my research is that ratings for RAW have improved since WWE stopped having wrestling during commercial breaks, with the exception of inset ads. Since the Superstar Shakeup in April, RAW ratings have been an average of 3% higher for the episodes following the change (excluding last week’s RAW Reunion, which would make it 8.2% higher). SmackDown has only been up 0.5% since the change, although the past two weeks have garnered the largest audiences since the Superstar Shakeup.
Barrios also noted that ratings for July are up 1% from the prior year quarter, but he admitted that it was bolstered by last week’s RAW reunion. The audience for the RAW reunion special was up 11% from the same week in 2018. Without that episode, the ratings for July are down from the prior year quarter.