Last week’s Friday Night Smackdown ratings are in. And the show, once again, appears to be doing just fine without Roman Reigns around.
Fueled from interest after a dramatic closing angle on the previous week’s telecast, Smackdown earned an average of 2,206,000 viewers this week. The show scored a P18-49 demographic score of 0.62.
Both numbers are up from last week’s performance, in which the show drew 2,195,000 viewers and a P18-49 rating of 0.57.
WWE Smackdown, Friday on Fox 8-10pm:
P18-49 rating: 0.62
AEW Collision, on TNT 8-10pm:
P18-49 rating: 0.08
AEW Rampage, on TNT 10-11pm:
P18-49 rating: 0.09
AEW Countdown, on TNT 11-11:30pm:
P18-49 rating: 0.04 pic.twitter.com/Ccphn9EL25
— Wrestlenomics (@wrestlenomics) November 20, 2023
The reason we key in on the women of Smackdown specifically? Well, they were the ones involved in last week’s concluding angle. Then, this week, the show began with the recently bolstered Damage CTRL faction. An All-Star quintet of Asuka, Bayley, Dakota Kai, Women’s Champion IYO Sky, and Kairi Sane showed dominance at the end of the November 10 telecast.
The opening quarter hour of the show, which featured a promo segment featuring all five, as well as Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, and Shotzi, drew the peak audience for the show. That was an average of 2,334,000 viewers that tuned in for this quarter-hour, according to the Wrestlenomics Patreon.
This was the second week in a row that the women had peak interest in the show during a promo segment.
The show’s final quarter-hour, which featured an angle including those eight women and ‘Big Time’ Becky Lynch, averaged 2,086,000 viewers.
This is all to say a few things.
Firstly, it’s definitely a victory for all involved that the interest level in the angle is off to a positive start. Something like this hasn’t been done yet for the women’s division. We’ve seen how successful The Bloodline angle has been for the Smackdown brand and WWE.
Longform storytelling for the women isn’t an area that the company has forayed into. But in the last two weeks, fans and viewers alike have been treated to it. So far, they aren’t chewing it and spitting it out.
They appear to want more, if the way the general interest at the beginning of this week’s show indicates. The show dropped in viewers throughout but never dipped below 2 million on average. Considering what standards have been set, not falling off the ledge is essential.
Whatever the reasons for Fox and WWE’s upcoming split are? Ratings, viewership, and interest aren’t among them—and showing that this can be true without the company’s top draw around? That’s probably an even bigger win for all involved.
Reigns is a superstar beyond the WWE label. He has built himself a massive legion of fans and onlookers across the wrestling fan spectrum. Where he goes, viewers follow. He’s No. 1 with a bullet in the company. Nobody would argue this.
But you can argue that there’s enough interest maintained in the other big players on Smackdown. Most especially the women of the brand. And going about their business this way, with longform potential that could result in diverse ways that could help them out tenfold.
(Perhaps most notably? On November 18, 2022, Smackdown earned an average of 2,232,000 and an 18-49 rating of 0.56, according to Wrestlenomics, in the thick of the Bloodline storyline, with Sami Zayn’s involvement growing tremendously. So the show outperformed last year in the demo and fell only slightly shy of last year’s viewership number).
Women in WWE continue to do bold and exciting things. Every WWE show has a different and unique set of offerings. Thus far, it’s all paying off. Despite rampant thoughts otherwise, the truth can be told by the numbers.
Those numbers continue to show a heavy interest in what the women are doing—especially the stars. The investment may pay off with a maintained interest in a longform angle with tones that haven’t ever been played in WWE’s women’s division. Anything is possible if the content and the interest are maintained at a high level going forward.
WWE is moving at the same beat as everyone else in the women’s sports and entertainment industry, so their fans’ continued and static interest should not surprise you. While Reigns is on a sabbatical, likely until Royal Rumble time, they should be expected to take over. But, fear not, because the women will do just fine, it appears.