Watchdog: WWE’s ratings fall to lowest level in more than two years
More than two-thirds of all WWE shows aired in prime time on cable, down from about 80% in 2015, according to Nielsen data.
That’s down from 94% in 2016, when the network aired more than 1.5 million hours.
On cable, the average viewership for the last five months was a record low.
And viewership dipped even further from its peak in April, when 2.3 million people tuned in to see the WWE SmackDown tapings.
Some analysts expect that decline to continue in 2017, when a year ago the network hosted more than 2.1 million hours of programming.
The drop in viewership came as the network grappled with declining ratings and rising costs.
It’s the second consecutive year the network’s ratings have been down.
For the third consecutive year, WWE aired a special event that didn’t reach a large audience, including WrestleMania 24, WrestleMania 25 and the WrestleMania 31 pay-per-view, according.
The company had no comment.
WWE was criticized in 2016 for not releasing more information about its pay-cable subscriber numbers.
The network, which has aired nearly 2.5 billion hours of television since its inception in 1984, said it would provide an annual report in the coming months.
WWE executives also cited a decline in revenue as the main reason for declining viewership.
They also cited the need for an additional revenue stream for pay-for-view content, including pay-offs for wrestlers who have wrestled on other networks.
A company spokesman said the network has not changed its content strategy, but has reduced the number of times it airs the pay-to-view versions of shows.
In the past year, the company has aired more shows on cable and its digital channels.
It also has been offering new shows, such as “Raw” and “SmackDown,” to viewers.
The wrestling network, based in Stamford, Conn., has been the subject of multiple investigations into allegations of sexual assault, including one from the Senate Judiciary Committee last year.
The committee’s chairman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein Dianne Emiel FeinsteinHillicon Valley: DOJ sues California over election security bill | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | Facebook cuts off Trump’s Twitter account | Google to pay $1.5B in settlements over Trump election interference claimsTop tech companies cut ties with Trump over Russia probe MORE (D-Calif.), is investigating whether WWE violated federal antitrust laws.
Last week, the committee’s chairwoman, Sen.-elect Kamala Harris Kamala Devi HarrisDems hold GOP primary to determine 2020 candidates Dems hold GOP primaries to determine 2018 candidates MORE (Calif.), announced she would seek an investigation into the company, saying that it has engaged in a “pattern of misconduct” and that she would ask the Justice Department to investigate.
The investigation has also prompted the cancellation of a WWE TV series that was scheduled to air in 2019.
The show, “Superstars at War,” was supposed to air a month after WrestleMania 30, but was pushed back to 2018.
It was canceled because it was deemed too “politically sensitive” to air, according, according a statement from the network.
The series, which was set to air on TBS, was scheduled for an April premiere on cable in the fall.
The cancellation is another blow to WWE’s struggling ratings.
On Thursday, the network posted its first-ever quarter-over-quarter drop in viewers since last fall.
In February, WWE reported a 2.2 rating in adults 18-49 for the quarter.
The number dropped 2.8 percent from the previous quarter, according an analyst report by Nielsen.
On Wednesday, WWE announced that its pay per view program, “Raw,” would be postponed until 2019, citing a lack of audience.
The “Raw Live!”
PPV on WWE Network will air the following week.