AEW’s third episode draws 1.014M viewers, NXT draws 712K

October 17, 2019

All Elite Wrestling bested NXT Wednesday night for the third straight week although both telecast showed declines in ratings over the previous weeks.

All Elite Wrestling on TNT drew 1.014M viewers, a 0.44 share in the P18-49 demo and a 0.65 in the M18-49 demo.  NXT on USA drew 712,000 viewers, a 020 share in the P18-49 and a 0.27 in the M18-49 demo.

AEW was the 5th highest rated cable show on Wednesday.  Notably only VH1 Network had a higher rating during both the 8pm and 9pm hours with AEW on TNT second.

Lee South/AEW

 

AEW

Week 1: 1.4M viewers

Week 2:  1.018M viewers

Week 3: 1.014M viewers

NXT

Week 1: 1.179M viewers *1 hour

Week 2: 1.006M viewers *1 hour

Week 3: 890,000 viewers

Week 4: 790,000 viewers

Week 6: 712,000 viewers

SmackDown draws 2.9M viewers in 2nd week on Fox

October 12, 2019

WWE Friday Night Smackdown drew 2.90 million viewers on Fox per Nielsen via Television By Numbers.  The ratings reflect a drop from last week’s debut.

Friday night saw a 1.0 rating in the A18-49 and a 6 share in the overall audience.

The telecast is down from last Friday’s 3.87M viewers. This week CBS ruled Friday night ratings as an episode of Hawaii Five-O drew 6.95M overall viewers in the 8-9pm time slot, Magnum, P.I. grabbed 6.43M viewers from 9-10pm and although SmackDown did not go up against it, Blue Bloods hit 7.55M viewers from 10-11pm.

Payout Perspective:

A decrease is viewership of almost 1 million viewers has to be concerning.  Yet, the telecast is strong in the 18-49 demo which is a saving grace for the promotion as it hopes that it can attract viewers.  Yet, it seems that the fall on Friday night will be ruled by CBS and its original programming.

Cain Velasquez leaves UFC, signs with WWE

October 12, 2019

Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez has signed with World Wrestling Entertainment and has retired from the UFC.

Velasquez made an appearance on WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown Premiere when he came out with Rey Mysterio to confront Brock Lesnar.  At a press conference on Friday, it was announced that Velasquez had signed with the promotion and will face Brock Lesnar at WWE’s Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia on October 31st.

Although Velasquez has just a handful of pro wrestling matches under his belt, he has impressed with his agility and move set.  For an athlete that has experienced multiple injuries in mixed martial arts, his body seems rejuvenated for professional wrestling.

Also announced at the WWE press conference Friday was boxer Tyson Fury facing Braun Strowman.

Via MMA Junkie:

Payout Perspective:

In interviews, it sounds as though Velasquez is happy with this career move and is ready to move on from MMA.  While he has a lot to do to refine his pro wrestling, he has the notoriety, charisma and athletic ability to become a big star, similar to Lesnar, in WWE.

AEW draws over 1 million viewers for second episode on TNT

October 10, 2019

The second episode of All Elite Wrestling declined in ratings from its debut but still remained over 1 million viewers.  In comparison, NXT on USA at the same time was down in ratings to 790,000 viewers.

NXT drew 890,000 viewers last week in its first show going to two hours to compete with AEW on TNT.  This week’s NXT drew 0.46 in the M18-49 demo.  For AEW on TNT, it drew 1.018 million viewers and 0.66 in the A18-49 demo.

In its second week of the “Wrestling Wars,” AEW is showing strength with its overall rating and with the younger demo.  It drew 0.33 in the M18-34 compared to 0.15 for NXT on USA.  Granted, NXT on USA is not the main show for the WWE, but AEW is finding a niche with an audience disenchanted with the current WWE product.

On a day with two Game 5 playoff games, the viewership for wrestling was strong.  It should be noted that the Cardinals-Braves finale was a blowout from the start (10-0 in first inning) so you may have seen an audience turn the channels.  Also, the Nationals-Dodgers game was not decided until extra innings.

Friday night SmackDown debut on Fox draws 3.87M viewers, 8 share in A18-49 demo

October 5, 2019

The debut of Friday Night SmackDown on Fox drew 3.87 million viewers according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  It also drew a 1.4 rating and an 8 share in the A18-49 demo.

Although the threshold for the debut may have been 4.5 million viewers (see below), the telecast was the highest rated in the A18-49 demo for the night on the networks.  It was third in total viewers in the 8-9pm time slot to Hawaii Five-O (6.93M) and The Blacklist (3.97M) (via Television By Numbers).  Yet, an 8 share was double of any other network show in either the 8-9 or 9-10 time slot.

Fox went big for the debut of SmackDown with the appearances of The Rock, boxer Tyson Fury and the surprise debut of Cain Velasquez.  Certainly, the ratings have to be pleasing for Fox which promoted it throughout all of its media and the WWE which likely proved its worth to the network on Friday night.  The question will be whether SmackDown can sustain this rating and surpass it to show an attractive expanse for the viewers.  If you are to look at interest based on twitter, there were a certain amount of people that had not watched wrestling in a while that found SmackDown.  Whether those viewers convert to regulars will be an interesting case study on how this goes for the television deal.

‘Dynamite’ ratings for AEW’s debut on TNT

October 3, 2019

The debut of All Elite Wrestling’s “Dynamite” drew 1.4 million viewers and was second in overall cable ratings for Wednesday night according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  NXT on the USA Network drew 890,000 viewers in its first head-to-head with the upstart rival.

The series premier of All Elite Wrestling drew a 0.68 rating in the A18-49 demo compared to 0.32 from NXT.  “Dynamite” will be a two hour show on TNT on Wednesday.  Similarly, NXT will be two hours.  For the first two weeks on the USA Network, NXT had been an hour long telecast but moved to two hours with the new competition.

Notably, Tuesday night TNT aired a “Countdown” show for AEW which drew 691,000 viewers which is impressive considering it did not contain live wrestling content but just a glorified highlight show of what to expect from the company.

The WWE’s product saw a 10% decline over the last two weeks with the preceding weeks scoring over 1 million viewers.

Payout Perspective:

Regardless of which show you may prefer, this is a big win for the genre of pro wrestling as over 2 million viewers tuned in on Wednesday to watch either WWE or AEW.  Only the MLB Wildcard game on ESPN drew more on cable Wednesday despite the fact that it was also opening night for the NHL.  We shall see if AEW can sustain the ratings.

AEW finds television home at Turner

May 16, 2019

The upstart wrestling promotion, All-Elite Wrestling, has found a television home with Time Warner.  The announcement was made official when AEW appeared at the Turner upfronts on Wednesday.

AEW signed a deal with WarnerMedia that will give the promotion which has its first show Memorial Day weekend, a weekly television show on TNT primetime beginning later this year.  It will be the first time that professional wrestling has aired on TNT since the days of WCW in 2001.

In addition to TNT, AEW will stream on the B/R Live app.  The media rights deal was negotiated by AEW president and CEO Tony Khan and Bernie Cahill, co-founder of Activist Artists Management, LLC.

The television deal is an enormous benchmark for the nascent promotion which has gained momentum since its independent show, All-In, revealed an independent wrestling base willing to support non-WWE wrestling.

Payout Perspective:

Maybe not the redux of the Monday Night Wars which was the heyday of pro wrestling on cable networks.  With WWE now a publicly traded company and a central part of Fox’s network plans this fall, AEW’s television deal seems to be an homage to independent wrestling.  With a lot of expectations from the fans that have followed the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega and Cody, it will be interesting to see how the company seeks to differentiate itself from the WWE, and how it will draw sponsors and build an audience.  Also, interesting, what will the WWE do to retain talent from jumping to AEW and how it will produce its shows based on its new competition.

 

WWE posts 3rd Quarter results, will hold event in Saudi Arabia

October 26, 2018

The WWE announced its third quarter results for the year on Thursday morning.  It also confirmed that it will go forward with an event in Saudi Arabia despite the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The WWE addressed the controversial in today’s earnings release which called the killing “heinous” but stated that as with other US companies that are continuing operations in Sauid Arabia, the WWE decided to “uphold its contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority and stage the event.”

When asked by analysts today on the earnings call, Vince McMahon stated, “[i]t’s a very sensitive subject.  I think our statement says what we wanna say.”  In recent weeks, the WWE promoted the event without indicating that Crown Jewel on November 3rd would take place in Saudi Arabia.  The event will be the second in Saudi Arabia as the WWE held, “Greatest Royal Rumble” this past April.  The reason for the events in Saudi Arabia boil down to the massive amounts of revenue for the company.

The WWE earnings for the third quarter beat analyst expectations as Wall Street predicted Earnings Per Share of 21 cents.  The company announced an Earnings Per Share of 37 cents on revenue of $188.4 million.  Subscriptions to the WWE Network grew 9% to more than 1.66 million.  The media division increased 9% to $142.1 million due license fees and sales of ad and sponsorships.

Revenue at live events dropped this quarter by 15.5% to $26.7 million due to fewer events and an 8% decrease in North American attendance.  International events saw an even bigger decrease of 18% in average attendance.  In consumer products, revenue declined 18% to $19.6 million due to new revenue recognition standards and lower sales of merchandise online and at WWE venues.

WWE shares are at $75.68, down approximately 2.18% as of Thursday afternoon after hours trading.

Payout Perspective:

The Saudi Arabia event which will be held November 3rd likely will help with company’s revenue, but there will be a public relation hit based on the controversy surrounding the death of the Washington Post journalist.  The partnership with Saudi Arabia caused controversy as women couldn’t participate in the country.  But, the WWE has signed a 10-year agreement with Saudi Arabia and estimates $50 million of incremental revenue and more than $15 million in operating income to the company.  The infusion of cash will please shareholders.

 

The WWE has done well with its media division as shows like Total Divas and Miz & Mrs have increased license fees and sales of advertising and sponsorships.  Aside from its media division, the WWE has seen a decline in operating income in the other sectors of its business.  The decrease in attendance likely caused, in part, the lower revenue in the consumer products.

Cabana sues Punk over unpaid legal fees

August 9, 2018

Scott Colton (aka Colt Cabana) is suing C.M. Punk over unpaid legal fees the two shared as a result of a defamation lawsuit brought by a WWE physician.  Cabana and Punk prevailed in the lawsuit although the issue of the bill is in dispute.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, August 7th in the Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois.  According to the lawsuit, CM Punk assured Cabana that he was “100% covered” in relation to a demand letter he received regarding the infamous podcast in which Punk and Cabana spoke about the latter’s time in WWE including the physician’s lack of care for Punk.  Punk and Cabana were sued on February 19, 2015.

A retention agreement by Punk and Cabana’s defense law firm during for the trial indicated that Punk would be responsible for paying the legal invoices.  But, Cabana claims that in April 2016, Punk emailed him stating he would no longer pay the legal bills stating that Cabana would be responsible for half.  But, in June 2016, an agreement was brokered between the law firm, Punk and Cabana through trial.

In March 2017, Punk allegedly requested that the law firm representing them withdraw from the case as to representing Cabana.  As a result, Cabana had to retain separate counsel.

In June 2018, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Punk and Cabana.  After the trial, Cabana’s lawyers demanded $200,000 in legal fees and net costs incurred by Cabana.  But, Punk refused to pay.

Cabana has brought a civil lawsuit for breach of contract and fraud.

Payout Perspective:

It looks like the former friends are friends no more considering this lawsuit.  There were potential conflicts between Cabana and Punk from the outset and to have both represented by the same counsel seemed dubious.  Based on Cabana’s side of the story, it appears that he took no action to remove the podcast when the initial demand letter was sent by the WWE doctor because he believed that Punk would “cover” him.  In this case, withdrawing as counsel two years into the lawsuit is more damaging than letting him find his own counsel from the beginning because it would seem that the new counsel would cost more considering it would have to get up to speed with the lawsuit and duplicate efforts.  One would think that a settlement would have happened instead of this lawsuit but it may be a case of bad blood between the two.

WWE announces SmackDown Live deal with Fox Sports

June 26, 2018

The WWE announced its upcoming rights deal with Fox Sports with SmackDown Live starting on FOX Friday night October 4, 2019 according to a company press release.  The deal with Fox Sports more than triples the fees it was receiving in its prior deal with NBC Universal.

The show, which currently airs on the USA Network, will remain a 2-hour show airing year-round.

“WWE and FOX are a perfect match,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “Moving SmackDown Live to broadcast TV and having the ability to leverage FOX’s extensive portfolio of world-class sporting events will expand the reach of our flagship programming.”

The announcement is part of a new 5-year deal with Fox Sports.  In addition, it signed a deal with Comcast Corp.’s USA Network for Raw to remain on the Network.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement confirms that Smackdown Live will be on network television in 2019.  The news of the deal with Fox Sports last month boosted WWE stock.  Smackdown Live on network television is an even bigger coup for the company as its business continues to ascend.  The clamor for live content has made this round of rights fees for the WWE a bounty of riches as it adjusted its annual average rights fees from $468 million as compared to the $130 million in its previous deal for its two key programs.

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