For the past few weeks, I have been really dealing it to the WWE in my columns. As you can see from the links below, I questioned the developmental system under Triple H, questioned why Miz was WWE Champion, why the WWE would push a guy in his late 40s, and onward. Some of you WWE loyalists were like "give us a break, take on AEW for a change".
And then I thought about it... I did already cover the 2020 Wrestling Observer Awards during 2/27's Ask Tito and honestly, aside from Omega as Outstanding Wrestler and Excalibur as Best Announcer, I didn't have that much of a problem with the awards. WWE and NXT have been REALLY BAD for 2020, aside from a brief 4 month sliver of WWE Smackdown with Roman Reigns and Sasha Banks on top over there... But again, I already covered those awards and I've already established how anti-WWE that Dave Meltzer is and how much of a shill he is for anything New Japan or from California's Independent scene. On top of that, his former Observer financial writer, Chris Harrington, is in the AEW front office as Vice President of Business Strategy.
Ripping the 2020 Observer Awards or Dave Meltzer's obvious bias would be too easy.
Let's get a little more smart and technical about this. AEW Dynamite has been around since October 2019 and I have over 30 samples for weekly television viewership to study using statistical modeling. If you weren't lucky enough to take a course in college or major in Mathematics, Economics, or Psychology, the term "statistics" is defined as "the practice or science of collecting and then analyzing numerical data in large quantities especially for the purpose of inferring proportions in a whole from those in a representative sample".
In other words, if you collect data, can you find any patterns, rhymes, or reasons why a variable is causing a change in another. And not just any change, something that is statistically significant from the data. For example, the average IQ in America is around 100... From there, it's usually about 25-30 points above and below that determines whether someone needs help living or if someone is borderline genius. However, the folks between an IQ of 70 to 130 can mostly do the same operational things on a day to day basis... It's the below 70 and above 130 crowd who are statistically different.
So I tried my hand at this... And let me tell you, it was a bit difficult to assess AEW's Dynamite viewership than my efforts reviewing WWE's Monday Night RAW viewership against outside factors. Why? Well, let me post something first:
Look at those numbers... Up and Down, Up and Down. AEW's Dynamite viewership actually stays within a tight range of 700,000 to 950,000 with only a few "freaks of nature" variances from that tight range. One week, they'll see 940,000 viewers but on the next, it's 750,000 viewers. It is non-stop with them...
My statistical model was this:
-AEW Dynamite Viewership (tested both total viewership and weekly changes)
-Chris Jericho as AEW Champ
-Jon Moxley as AEW Champ
-Kenny Omega as AEW Champ
-COVID-19 happening, before and after March 2020
When I was testing Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, and Kenny Omega as AEW Champions and if their reigns meant anything versus the viewership, I found insignificant results... What my tests told me is that it DIDN'T MATTER who was AEW Champion because equally between the 3 champions, they were always within that 700,000 to 950,000 range. One week, viewership was up, next it was down... But within that range. If you look at Moxley's Title reign, in particular, he seemed to be losing viewership during the 2nd Quarter but then gained it all back during the 3rd Quarter.
In other words, AEW has the same problem as the WWE... Nobody as World Champion is drawing BUT there is brand loyalty among fans. AEW fans are loyal to their brand and always show up, and ditto for about 1.5 million WWE fans every week. Certainly, if both WWE and AEW had a transcendent World Champion or Main Event draw, their numbers would pop... But right now, they are stagnant and they are both making enough money off of their most loyal fans who will automatically tune in each and every week.
THAT SAID, Kenny Omega's data as the most recent AEW Champion is trending downward from the rest of the population. To his defense, he has only been Champion since December 2020 and that's probably why I produced an "insignificant" result for him as Champion. Since Kenny Omega won the belt, 5 out of 12 weeks of him being Champion has resulted in shows below 750,000 in viewership. Maybe in 6 months or so, we can revisit this and see if the usual 700,000 to 950,000 data fluctuations will continue. If not, we'll have something valid to report on Kenny. If I had a stronger significance on his coefficient result, I would say that Kenny Omega being champion causes AEW Dynamite to lose around 15,000 viewers per show.
How about COVID-19 and it's affect on AEW Dynamite viewership? First of all, I want to insert my opinion into viewership during 2020 which I covered in my VERY FIRST Column at NoDQ on 8/1/2020. From mid-March through June, Pro Wrestling had a stronghold on Sports Fans because NFL was in an off-season, NBA/NHL/NASCAR/PGA/NCAA/MLB either cancelled or postponed, and major events like the Kentucky Derby were postponed. With everyone quarantined due to the Coronavirus, both AEW and WWE had their shot at impressing people and their 85 million households attached to TNT and USA Network. As you can see from my viewership data, AEW declined during that 2nd Quarter where, in my opinion, they should have increased. Ditto for WWE who saw sharper viewership declines for RAW.
It is my estimation that the "COVID-19 Era" has placed about a 52,000 viewership drag on AEW Dynamite that is mildly statistically significant.
Now, we could argue all day about what that means... Does it mean that everyone was watching the News for COVID-19 stuff instead? The 2020 Election stuff? CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC were all reporting RECORD numbers throughout 2020 and onto early 2021 where that news kept going. Regardless, it is a fact that both AEW and WWE started off 2020 better than how they ended it. Whether you want to blame that on COVID/Politics being a distraction or a LACK OF QUALITY is up to you to decide. Can't blame Sports, as they all came back during the 3rd Quarter 2020 and AEW's numbers actually increased during that quarter.
The last thing that I tested was the significance of NXT being on Wednesday Nights as a competitor to AEW Dynamite. This number had the strongest significance on the data but the coefficient's sign is maybe not what you'd expect... The sign is POSITIVE. What does that mean?!? It means that both AEW and NXT's viewership numbers are statistically moving in the SAME direction and are positively & directly related. When AEW's numbers increase, so does NXT's... When AEW's numbers decrease, so does NXT's... As Jim Cornette repeatedly suggests on his Podcasts, the difference between these shows are a casual 150,000 who switch between both shows. Both AEW and NXT are statistically moving in the same direction and complement each other.
As you've seen with the few weeks where AEW Dynamite was without NXT as a competitor, they only broke through the 1 million barrier just one time during September 2020. Otherwise, they just had slightly higher numbers than normal. NXT is not a big viewership drag on AEW and in the long-term, they might keep fans watching on Wednesday nights with 2 shows to flip between instead of just watching one show. For example...
Many of us argued this about WWE RAW vs. WCW Nitro for years regarding the "Monday Night Wars". Having BOTH promotions on the same night is a treat for the wrestling fans. For one, it saved time and two, it created competition between the shows for your viewership. If you look at 1998 data in particular, WWE and WCW Nitro's numbers BOOMED together despite WWE RAW overtaking WCW that year. RAW just surged heavily in the ratings but WCW was still growing strong with Bill Goldberg and the remnants of the NWO that year. 1998 is WCW's most financially successful year. Even during 1999-2000 when WCW's viewership declined, their viewership THEN was actually higher than what WWE RAW scores today during 2021. When WCW closed its doors during March 2001, you saw a real crater effect happen with Monday Night RAW that worsened after the WCW/ECW Invasion Angle started to fail. RAW's viewership declined from 2000 through 2004 as WCW's quality declined and after there was no WCW to speak of after March 2001.
AEW and NXT need each other... They are truly fighting over 100,000 to 200,000 wrestling fans who just want to be entertained on Wednesday nights and they'll shift their viewership to what is better on a given night. For the past year, AEW has dominated which tells you specifically about NXT. If both shows produced better quality programming or had higher drawing stars, you'd see both increasing together.
BUT again - I found a positive correlation in my testing between AEW and NXT... NXT is not taking away viewership, it is HELPING AEW's viewership. Both are increasing together and both are decreasing together. Wrestling fans are enjoying having the OPTION to CHOOSE between the shows on Wednesday nights. Otherwise, one would likely fail without the other, long-term.
After I wrote this column earlier this week, we had BREAKING NEWS on a RUMOR about multiple sources telling various news sites about now the NXT show will move to TUESDAYS effectively on April 13th, 2021 on the USA Network. Reportedly, this is a pre-emptive move because NBC Sports content will begin to migrate over to USA Network and I believe Wednesday nights is a sought after night by the NHL (they seem to have Double Headers that night, sometimes Triple Headers).
However, take what you've learned from this column and its statistical testing... AEW Dynamite and NXT are positively and directly correlated. Both shows Increase and Decrease together as its likely that much of the same wrestling fanbase are watching BOTH shows. If you take one CHOICE away, 100% of the focus will be placed on 1 show and there no longer exists another wrestling show for flipping the channel the other show gets bad. In my opinion, we'll see a temporary spike in AEW's Dynamite show at first, but long term, they'll settle back under 850,000 viewers UNLESS they find a breakout star on their programming. I believe that NXT will really suffer on Tuesday nights... This is WWE's farm system show and they probably needed syphon viewers from AEW to keep afloat above 500,000 viewers.
So there you go... Something different this week but yet it proved a few fascinating things about AEW:
1) It doesn't matter who is AEW Champion, they are all statistically drawing the same. That said, Kenny Omega's trending in the wrong direction as AEW Champion right now.
2) COVID-19 or the timeframe between 2nd Quarter 2020 and present, there is a slow and steady decline towards the lower end of the 700,000 to 950,000 data range of AEW Dynamite viewership. Whether you want to blame on that on COVID or AEW's quality, I'll let you decide.
3) AEW seems "stuck" within 700,000 to 950,000 viewers for AEW Dynamite. Just a bouncy ball between that range.
4) NXT is not statistically subtracting to AEW's viewership. In fact, it's enhancing it as the coefficients are positively related (both increase at the same time, both decrease at the same time). Wrestling fans are tuning into Wednesday Nights because they have CHOICE among 2 wrestling shows to flip between. Unless a breakout star can be found on either show, both AEW and NXT will suffer without each other if NXT moves to Tuesday nights.
I hope you enjoyed a little statistical analysis of AEW's viewership data as it is tested against their World Champions, COVID-19, and NXT's viewership. If you did not like this, make sure you post "WWE Mark" or something derogatory in the Comments section.
In my opinion, what would shake-up the logjam of viewership right now is if WWE, AEW, or even NXT somehow finds the next top babyface draw. Right now, WWE Smackdown has the top villain with Roman Reigns who could convert into a babyface draw under the right circumstance. However, many WWE fans remember him from 2014 through early 2020 when he was forced down our throats. If another John Cena like wrestler emerges from no where with their own gimmick or personality on top of being a strong worker, then you'd see numbers significantly changing for the better for someone.
The question is... Who is that next babyface draw and does it belong to WWE, NXT, or AEW right now?
If not, AEW will probably bounce between the 700,000 to 950,000 range for a long time and that "hot" 18-49 Demo will bounce between 300,000 and 450,000 viewers. I tested those numbers, too, and found the same results. Nothing is getting wrestling fans excited to watch more of the AEW brand... However, nothing is scaring them off completely either.
So just chill... Until the next episode!
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