WWE has had a very difficult year in 2020 and has been admirably successful in continuing to produce content despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, at the end of 2020, it looks like the company is not enjoying the fruits of its labor as it would have hoped.
Monday Night RAW averaged 1.527 million viewers on the U.S. network this week, down 12 percent from 1.737 million viewers last week.
Of course, viewing habits have changed. In 2000, some shows did as well as nine million viewers. Today, WWE has a fraction of that audience, but it has an extraordinary reach on YouTube and social media that has evolved tremendously during this time.
Still, FOX is waiting for a number for the money they invested to secure the rights to RAW. WWE is expected to raise around $ 430 million from USA Network and FOX in 2021 and those numbers are growing every year. WWE’s televised deal with the United States is roughly $ 265 million of that number per year.
A source inside WWE said there had been a big reaction to the record odds and furthermore the United States was having a reaction as well.
“USA Network is furious,” the source said. “They want more adult content. Not a sexy adult, but a dark, violent adult. ”
It’s pretty common for fans to romanticize the Attitude Era and aspire to something more racy and intense, but the chances of Vince McMahon making such a pivot are slimmer than slim.
Ironically, McMahon’s birthday making the Attitude Era announcement in 1997 has just passed, and many WWE fans feel that Monday Night RAW needs a similar hit in the arm. Obviously, USA Network feels the same.
What will this get WWE to do? They’ve tried several quick fixes over the past year with RAW Underground, two out of three drop matches, RAW Dark, Retribution, and a host of other ideas that have only acted like bandages on a gunshot wound.
The source went on to say that WWE is hopeful the Royal Rumble can act as a “big reset” for them, so it will be interesting to see what new directions the company looks to take from there.
SmackDown continues to perform well on Friday nights on FOX. They hit around the 2.5 million mark in their prime and with Roman Reigns and Sasha Banks on this brand, it’s easy to see why.