WWE reintroduced the brand split nearly seven months ago, including almost monthly brand-exclusive pay-per-views for both Raw and SmackDown. Over six months in, it’s now noticeably clear that these shows have had a negative effect on Raw ratings.
One can speculate on the reasoning for this, but it makes sense that even hardcore fans might have trouble sitting through three-plus hours of Raw less than 24 hours after sitting through a PPV the night before.
This effect is the same whether it is a Raw or SmackDown PPV, as the numbers below will show.
Since the WWE draft on July 19th, Raw has averaged just under three million viewers in those 30 weeks. Listed below are the audience totals. In the column on the far right, a PPV name is included if it was a show following a Sunday event:
Since that time, there have been four PPVs that were dual-branded (Battleground, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and Royal Rumble). The average for Raws following those bigger shows actually shows a significant increase, as has traditionally been the case (PPV bump).
The audience for these shows increased by 11 percent more than the overall average:
Moving to shows following brand-exclusive PPVs, this is where there is a big drop in the average audience. There have been seven such shows since the brand split, and Raws following those shows have had their audience decrease by an average of seven percent:
For whatever reason, the brand-exclusive shows do not have the same effect on SmackDown ratings. The average number for the live show on Tuesday nights since July 19th is 2.52 million viewers. On weeks when there is a brand-exclusive PPV, that number drops to 2.49 million on average, a drop of under two percent.
On weeks following a “big show,” the SmackDown number actually rose seven percent to 2.7 million viewers.
The next Raw-exclusive PPV is Fastlane on March 5th. It will be interesting to see if the episode of Raw following that event shows a similar ratings decrease as previous shows have done.