AEW finishes third on cable, tops NXT in head-to-head return

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In their first head-to-head battle in over a month, AEW and NXT fell from their unopposed figures the week prior with Dynamite outdrawing NXT.

Both shows benefited from the NBA playoffs having an off night and lessened the competition allowing AEW Dynamite to finish third for the night on cable with 886,000 viewers and a 0.34 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

While the audience and demo ratings for both shows were down from last week, that was to be expected with each running on separate nights last week. If anything, NXT would have the greater disadvantage running on Tuesdays for the last two weeks while AEW returned to its normal night a week ago topping one million viewers for its September 9th episode following the All Out pay-per-view.

In Canada, AEW Dynamite averaged 150,600 with 79,500 in the 25-54 demographic on TSN2. They were the third most-watched sports program that night with the Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees game topping the sports chart. NXT does not air live on Wednesday nights in Canada, so there isn’t a comparison to make.

NXT finished 31st among cable programming on Wednesday with 689,000 viewers and a 0.18 rating in the 18-49 demographic, representing declines of 18 percent in both categories from last week’s Super Tuesday II.

Despite going head-to-head this week, both AEW and NXT saw increases with its 18-34 audience this week with AEW up 8 percent and NXT increased by 11 percent.

The audiences that were down significantly from the unopposed episodes were the older audiences. Among 25-54s, AEW dropped 11.5 percent and NXT fell 21 percent. Adults over 50 fell 20 percent for AEW and NXT declined by 16 percent in the older demo. Both shows also saw double-digit declines among its 18-49 male audiences.

It was the typical pattern as AEW outdrew NXT in all the demos except adults over 50, which was close as NXT beat AEW by 0.04.

AEW’s big victories were with adults 18-34, where they doubled NXT and almost doubled them in the coveted 18-49 grouping.

NXT is promoting a significant show next week where they will determine the contenders for NXT TakeOver to challenge for Finn Balor’s NXT Championship and Io Shirai’s NXT Women’s Championship. AEW will counter with a live show featuring Jon Moxley, Will Hobbs & Darby Allin vs. Lance Archer, Brian Cage & Ricky Starks, as well as a TNT Championship match between Brodie Lee and Orange Cassidy as the key matches.

For the demos, we used last week’s unopposed shows as a comparison to illustrate how much running with competition affected both programs this week:

Source: Showbuzz Daily

ADULTS 18-49
AEW: 0.34 (-8 percent)
0.18 (-18 percent)

AEW: 0.23 (-4 percent)
0.13 (-13 percent)

MALES 18-49
0.46 (-10 percent)
NXT: 0.23 (-21 percent)

ADULTS 18-34
0.24 (+9 percent)
0.10 (+11 percent)

0.15 (Even)
NXT: 0.06 (Even)

MALES 12-34
0.26 (+8 percent)
NXT: 0.14 (Even)

ADULTS 25-54
AEW: 0.38 (-11.5 percent)
0.22 (-21 percent)

0.32 (-20 percent)
0.36 (-16 percent)

This ratings war is over. WWE should take the loss and move to a Tuesday’s timeslot. AEW obviously is the future. If Wrestling can have a boom period it will start in Florida and not in Connecticut. I think in one years time AEW will also beat Raw in all key demos.

I think your last idea that it will beat RAW is precisely why NXT won’t move. If NXT continually pulls 600k viewers it hurts AEW and its ability to surpass RAW.


I won’t say WWE doesn’t care about NXT’s ratings, because that’s obviously not true. But part of NXT’s purpose at this point is to keep AEW’s rating down, which the numbers show is an effective strategy for the time being. Not sure why you think that WWE should give that up.


I think with the changes at USA Network, WWE may have lost the ability to use two hours of primetime on Wednesday nights as an excuse for personal targets.

NXT performed considerably better on unopposed Tuesdays. And unopposed Wednesdays for that matter. USA might question why they are remaining where they are.


100% agreed. I think some people misunderstand what WWE is doing here, because fans get too caught up in the “head to head” aspect of the ratings. Sure WWE want NXT to beat AEW, but their main goal is for NXT to slow the growth of Dynamite which it is doing. Having their #3 show hurt the ratings of AEW’s #1 show in their minds is likely a success.


Agreed with this as well. USA doesnt care about AEW, they care about their prime time ratings. If they are paying a lot of money for NXT, they are going to want it on the night that it will do the best for the networks overall numbers. I guess it all comes down to what is in the contract.

Imagine being an NXT fan in 2018 and somebody told you within 2 years the best wrestling show in the world would become a main roster-fied watered down production for the main purpose of stifling competition and strategically influencing TV ratings to maintain lucrative contracts.


It was never a war. More like a border skirmish with the numbers they each draw.

As much as I laud the effort John puts in to breaking the numbers down, there really isn’t the excitement that existed during the real competition for ratings between Nitro and Raw.

Both have been on broadcast tv for almost a year now and both are struggling to consistently attract more than 850,000 viewers never mind grow their audiences so talk of either AEW or NXT being the future of wrestling is a pipe dream. If AEW beat ever beat Raw in all key demos it will be because Raw’s audience has dropped to Dynamite’s level rather than AEW growing.

If it wasn’t obvious by now, the modern presentation only attracts the fundamentalists and is of no interest to the fans like myself that have been driven away never mind having the ability to attract new fans.


It’s ridiculous to compare numbers from 20 years ago to today. Third in the demo is a massive success, no other way to look at it.

No one is comparing numbers from 20 years ago, that’s just not how it works.

Now imagine the AEW number without WWE sacrificing NXT every week. In less than a year AEW would almost be at RAWs number, amazing achievement


Getting well beyond my knowledge base at this point, but this also might depend on what the USA Network considers more valuable to them. Does USA see more value in keeping WWE as “the top wrestling company” (by whatever metrics they care about) which means NXT bringing down the AEW number is important? Or do they see more value in NXT getting 100-200k more weekly viewers on a different night to finish 25th instead of 30th? Depending on who is in charge – which, of course, is also in a state of flux right now – I can see the argument for either side. And I’m sure the best answer is actually somewhere in the middle. Maybe they just care about the numbers, but the perception probably matters as well.

(Sidebar: Gotta love the Internet… led this paragraph with “getting well beyond my knowledge base” and still managed to spew 100 more words on the subject.)

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Get past the comparison. The underlying point is both have not only failed to grow their audiences but have failed to maintain the initial interest so any hypothesising about either being the future paints a bleak future for wrestling as an even more niche “entertainment” that it already is.

Very good point, and I think the answer depends on who is in charge as I could see it being either or. At the end of the day though, I think it all comes down to what brings them in the most advertising money and I dont know the answer to that.

I dont know, I think this is more of a fan driven narrative then anything based on what fans want to see happen.

AEW has done awesome overall since opening their doors, and their ratings are definitely decent. But AEW beating WWE’s #3 show head to head hovering around 700K to 1Mil viewers is not exactly guaranteeing that they are “the future” if you are defining “future” as the number one wrestling promotion in the world. It shows they are the player, but this feels more like a sports fan saying “my teams winning the cup!!!” after having a good first week in a regular season.

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This was the best episode of dynamite to date. I’m glad to see that it has translated into such a good viewership. The Archer - Moxley melee was exciting and made me excited to see the 6man next week. Eddie Kingston is my favourite thing in prowres right now, partnah (wink to hard cam) and the Omega-Page story is as intriguing as ever. Main event exceeding expectations. Well done AEW. I can’t wait for next week.

Actually AEW has maintained a consistent audience. The cable companies want numbers and AEW is producing that, which is all that matters.

Growth will come if NXT tucks its tail and moves to Tuesday


AEW back under a million is a win for WWE and justifies their reasons for having NXT go up against AEW.

No it won’t. I’ll bet you $50 to be donated to a charity of your choice that AEW’s average audience (live number) for year two doesn’t hit 1,250,000.

I don’t think you understand how tv numbers work. No chance they average that high. If NXT moves I can see them averaging 1 million.

But by oct 2021 I can see AEW averaging a better demo number than RAW. It’s only a matter of time

I understand perfectly. I understand you agree they can’t increase their audience to -10% of the number they hit when they premiered i.e. they can’t get 90% of the audience who were interested enough to tune in and decided “this isn’t for me”.