How WWE’s TV Ratings Are Doing This Year

“SmackDown” going live on USA Network has paid off, but flagship show “Monday Night Raw” took a rough bump

WWE used to declare that “‘Raw’ Is War” — but how is the pro-wrestling promotion’s flagship show doing in the TV ratings battleground these days?

Year-to-date, USA Network’s “Monday Night Raw” is averaging 3.486 million total viewers, with 1.604 million of them coming from the key 18-49 demographic. Unfortunately, those tallies are both down 5 percent from 2016’s audience. To be fair, however, the average primetime year-to-date decline across all of cable is 9 percent.

Fortunately, “Raw” is faring better lately. From the fourth quarter to-date, the three-hour show is actually up 1 percent in both metrics. (All numbers in this story come from Nielsen’s Live + 7 Day category and include each episode through Nov. 14.)

A night later, Tuesday’s “SmackDown” shifting to a live format last July has really been paying off for Vince McMahon’s “B” show.

Year-to-date, the exclusive home to WWE Champion A.J. Styles is averaging 2.933 million total viewers, with 1.270 million of those hailing from the main demo. While those are up 8 percent and 13 percent, respectively, it’s important to remember that more than half of the comparable data in 2016 came from pre-taped shows.

Therefore, a better comparison for “SmackDown Live” is the Q4 vs. Q4 one we also did for “Raw.” Isolating only October and the half of November we have, WWE’s two-hour program is up 3 percent overall and 2 percent in the advertiser-coveted demographic.

Comparing the two shows to each other, WWE’s “A” show is averaging a 15.9 percent larger audience than the little brother program. The gap is even wider among adults 18-49, with “Raw” attracting 20.8 percent more eyeballs than “SmackDown.”

That disparity is even greater when one considers the shorter “SmackDown Live” doesn’t even have a 10 p.m. hour to weigh its averages down. In other words, “Raw” commissioner Stephanie McMahon had all the bragging rights over brother Shane (“SmackDown”) at last week’s Thanksgiving dinner.

WWE’s “Raw” airs Mondays from 8-11 p.m. on USA; “SmackDown Live” runs from 8-10 p.m. on the same cable channel the following evening.