When Vince McMahon stepped down from WWE due to that hush money scandal, his son-in-law Triple H took over in Talent Relations and Head of Creative. The results so far has been a success and one of the networks took noticed.
According to Sean Sapp behind Fightful’s paywall, USA Network over at NBCUniversal has been pleased with the changes with creative and the boost in viewership for WWE’s flagship show Monday Night Raw. It’s been over two years since the ratings has been over two million viewers on a regular basis.
WWE Raw’s viewership numbers exploded the first week with a Triple H-led show, after Vince McMahon retired from the company. WWE Raw landed at over 2.2 million viewers, which was the most in over two years.
Fightful reached out to several USA Network and Universal sources about the change, and the numbers that came with them. One longtime employee that has worked alongside the WWE project said that this was more in line with the numbers the company expected when they extended WWE Raw’s deal, but that the pandemic changed “everything.” They reiterated that they had never really imagined a world where Raw was under 2 million viewers outside of holidays, much less consistently. The source said “the following weeks were be the real test, but the results from the first Monday had me personally very excited.” The source said at one point they also didn’t expect Raw to be back over 2 million viewers regularly, which has happened in August.
Another source in Universal that said they keep up with wrestling more than others said that they didn’t personally expect the changes to be so drastic, but that the buzz created around the show can’t be argued with. They also said that they expected Smackdown’s numbers on Fox to see an increase as well, noting that they hoped it exceeded the impressive viewership the show did when McMahon put himself on television after the initial Wall Street Journal story.
USA Network sources were also asked about the direction of the show and the content itself. One source stated that they’ve personally seen the show as more appointment viewing, said that it felt more natural, and there’s more discussion about the show within the company than there has been since their new rights deal started.
A longtime employee of USA Network said that the WWE-USA relationship has long been an easygoing, business as usual one. However, they said that many in the company were happy to see creative changes implemented in August after Triple H took over that end of things. That same source indicated that they’d be surprised if USA didn’t make a play to renew WWE programming next year when negotiations are likely to start, and believes WWE has put themselves in an even better position in the last month.
It’s a great time for the WWE product to be rewarded with very good success so far under the new creative era lead by Triple H. Will the momentum keep up when Monday Night Football returns in a couple of weeks? We will see what happens down the down. As long as Raw’s product is entertaining and coherent, the fans will stick around.
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments!