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WWE, AEW Experience Ratings Gains

“WWE NXT and AEW Dynamite enjoyed ratings gains while RAW and Smackdown produced the largest audiences.”

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The wrestling ratings war continued its constant battle as the calendar flipped to the first week of September. Except, as in weeks past where it has been a contest to see which company would win Wednesday night, it flipped to a rising tides lift all boats mentality.

Earlier in the week a rumor surfaced that World Wrestling Entertainment’s brand, “NXT” may be moving nights from Wednesday to Tuesday.

The brand saw a bump in ratings as they ran their “Super Tuesday” show that saw a four-man “Iron Man” match headline the night. The overnight rating came in at 849K and a .26 rating in the 18-49 male demo. The previous week, when the show ran uncontested due to All Elite Wrestling being preempted due to the NBA Playoffs, the show produced a total viewership of 824K and a .24 demo rating.

The rumor of moving to Tuesday Night permanently first came out from the Twitter handle @WrestlerVotes.

Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer newsletter had more news of a possible move from Wednesday to Tuesday adding: “Wrestling Observer Radio reports that Vince McMahon and the USA Network have the same mentality when it comes to AEW. They ultimately don’t want another wrestling company to succeed in attracting a fanbase like AEW has, especially considering that USA’s partnership with WWE is worth $265 million, while AEW and TNT are set at a $40 million deal.” (Wrestling INC.)

AEW’s go-home show before their “All Out” pay-per-view did one of the company’s best rating in their short time as a wrestling promotion. Headlined by the build to the pay-per-view’s main event, Jon Moxley defending his AEW World Title against challenger Maxwell Jacob Friedman, helped the show deliver total viewership of 928K and a .36 rating.

This number was even more impressive since AEW had to return to their normal time slot after previously bouncing around due to the NBA Playoffs. Over the prior two-weeks “Dynamite” had to move to Saturday, then Thursday. However, the promotion never saw a dip in their ratings as Saturday’s 8/22 show did 755K and Thursday’s broadcast did 813K.

On Monday night, WWE’s flagship show “RAW” saw a slight dip in their audience going from 2.02 million viewers to 1.89 million. However, the show still finished fourth for the night; only trailing the NBA playoffs.

RAW, compared to Dynamite and NXT, is a three hour show. Overall the program drew a high rating, however, the show saw a decrease in viewership throughout each hour.

Hour One: 2.10 million

Hour Two: 1.88 million

Hour Three: 1.70 million

Friday Night Smackdown airs tonight, therefore those ratings numbers won’t be available until next week. Last week’s episode which saw Roman Reigns confirm his heel turn and align with Paul Heyman produced an average of 2,181,000 viewers, including a peak during the first hour where 2,210,000 fans tuned in. The show received a 0.6 rating among the key 18-49 demographic.

Wrestling as a whole had a great week. RAW’s large audience on Monday night helped NXT have a solid lead in where viewers didn’t have to wait a day to watch WWE’s NXT show. The same goes for AEW not having to share its audience, helping them come close to eclipsing the one-million total viewer mark.

Wrestling fans love to romanticize about the “Monday Night Wars” where there were more people watching cable television back in 1997-99. However, with more viewers dropping cable for streaming services, the days of flipping the channel back and forth between WWE (back then WWF) and World Championship Wrestling are long gone.

It makes more sense to let each promotion have their own night on prime time cable television. Each company has their chance to captivate the wrestling audience without having to lose a small group of people to the other company.

Rising tides lift all ships, and in this case rising ratings lifts all wrestling promotions.

T.J. McAloon is a freelance writer, Texas High School football journalist, and avid follower of the professional wrestling business. He can be reached on Twitter @TJMcAloon or by email at TMcAloon18@gmail.com.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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FOX Sports VP: ‘USFL Proves Spring Football As Valuable As Rising Properties’

“We want to show we belong in that category, and I think that happened.”

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Michael Mulvihill says the USFL accomplished exactly what FOX needed it to. It proved there is a large enough audience for spring football that it has a value on par with some of the hottest properties in sports media right now.

 “All we wanted to do is demonstrate that spring football can do viewership at the levels of Premier League, NHL regular season, Formula One or MLS,” the FOX Sports Executive VP said according to Sports Business Journal. “We want to show we belong in that category, and I think that happened.”

While none of those properties are pulling in the kind of media rights money the NFL or major college football is, Mulvihill pointed out that all of them have been in the news for the right reasons.

“You’re talking about properties that have all recently negotiated deals at substantial increases, or with F1, people know it’s about to.”

The USFL had a solid broadcasting footprint with games airing on FOX, NBC, FS1 and USA. Regular season games for the first year of the revived league averaged just under 700,000 viewers.

Mulvihill said fans behaved exactly how he expected them to in the first season of the USFL. Without any team loyalties, he isn’t surprised that people watched less of an average USFL game than they did the NFL or college football.

The USFL Playoffs begin this weekend. Canton, OH will host the league’s first championship game on July 3.

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Pelicans Extend Deal With Bally Sports New Orleans

“The deal will also put the team on the new Bally Sports+ streaming service, which had a soft launch earlier this week.”

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Sinclair has reached an agreement on a new rights deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. Bally Sports New Orleans will remain the team’s local TV partner. 

The deal will also put the team on the new Bally Sports+ streaming service, which had a soft launch earlier this week. The service rolls out in full this fall. 

“When we constructed this new agreement with Bally Sports New Orleans the main priority was distribution and the ability to deliver our games directly to our fans,” Dennis Lauscha, President of the New Orleans Pelicans, said in a press release.  With the upcoming launch of Bally Sports+, Bally Sports’ direct-to-consumer platform, any Pelicans fan will be able to have access to Bally Sports New Orleans in the team’s local territory. This partnership allows us to continue to deliver unique, compelling Pelicans content across multiple platforms with the highest production quality. We are still working every option with Bally Sports New Orleans to improve the accessibility, ancillary content and distribution of Pelicans programming to all of our fans across Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region.”

Bally Sports New Orleans will carry around 75 regular season games per year. The network will also produce first round playoff and preseason games.

“The New Orleans Pelicans have been a great partner over the years and we look forward to building this relationship into the future,” added Steve Simpson, SVP and GM of Bally Sports New Orleans. “Our ability to deliver Pelicans content to as many local fans as possible, on both linear distribution channels and the all-new Bally Sports+ streaming product this fall, is incredibly exciting as we continue to grow the next generation of Pelicans fans.”

The Pelicans did look at new media partners before re-signing with Bally Sports New Orleans. Karen Brodkin, Executive Vice President of Endeavor, who the team hired to consult the process, noted that the existing relationship and the addition of a proprietary streaming platform for Sinclair made the difference.

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