It’s been a fairly rocky Road to WrestleMania as far as TV ratings are concerned.
An impressive spell from late-January through early-March saw Monday Night Raw record some rather promising figures, as the show twice posted an average audience of over 5,000,000 viewers.
However, such success was soon followed by a slight dip in fortunes the following week. The decline then continued to gather pace with the March 18 episode almost crashing to a new low, equalling the show’s smallest figure for the year so far.
Such developments led me to question whether or not it was time for the WWE to hit the proverbial panic button; but it seems I may have spoken too soon.
As reported by WrestlingINC.com, this past week’s showing of Raw saw a much-needed improvement upon the episode prior:
As noted, the March 25th WWE RAW did a 3.21 cable rating with 4.61 million viewers.The 4.61 million viewers represented an increase of over one third of a million on the previous week, providing the WWE with the kind of boost they need with just the one more show before WrestleMania.
In the segment breakdown, the show opened strong with CM Punk and The Undertaker doing a 3.39 quarter rating.
But how much encouragement can the WWE take from these figures?
In my mind, quite a lot actually.
When compared with the corresponding show of 2012, we can see that the WWE posted an annual increase of almost 250,000 viewers from last year’s 4.38 million. And even more interestingly, this week’s figure was also greater than 2012’s WrestleMania go-home show, which garnered an average audience of just over 4.44 million.
The figure also boosts Raw’s average for the year so far. When compared with the first 12 shows of 2012, this year has in fact averaged over 85,000 additional fans each week—a marginal improvement but an improvement nonetheless.
However, some skeptics may be keen to point out that last year’s shows didn’t have the star power of Brock Lesnar to rely upon.
As a result, one could question whether an increase of 85,000 represents a decent return for the suspected $5 million that the WWE splashed on the former UFC Heavyweight Champion.
But that remains a story for another day.
What’s relevant here is the fact that the most recent episode of Raw posted strong figures without the need for a Lesnar appearance.
Perhaps the most promising aspect, though, comes after taking a look at the hour-by-hour ratings breakdown.
It’s noticeable that the closing segment involving The Rock and John Cena “gained 615,000 viewers for a 3.47 rating”–making it the clear high-point of the show.
In almost penetrating that elusive 5-million mark, the WWE managed to give a ton of exposure to their WrestleMania main event—something that was desperately needed. Hopefully such promotion will go some way to atoning for the lack of attention that the WWE Title match had received in the two weeks beforehand.
Providing those fans who did tune in for the closing segment were impressed—as I myself was—then this should provide the WWE with a very welcome boost heading into WrestleMania.
To conclude, I feel that this news is indeed a highly positive revelation as far as the WWE are concerned.
Of course there are many fans who will care little about idiosyncrasies such as Raw’s ratings, but it is an interesting side note nonetheless.
Furthermore, the ratings rise was no doubt the result of the noticeable improvement in the actual quality of the show, and for that fans can be pleased regardless of their opinions on the analysis of Raw’s viewership.
If the WWE can continue to build on this success and provide us with a good show next week, then WrestleMania may well turn out to exceed many people’s expectations.
Though the overall build may not have been perfect, at least there are now signs of improvement—which can only bode well for the future.
With Lesnar, The Rock, Undertaker and all of the company’s other top names scheduled to appear on Raw next week, we could be set for the perfect send-off before the Showcase of the Immortals come April 7.
Until then though, please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on this news as well as any of the other issues discussed in the article.