NEWS UPDATE: WWE Backlash & Smackdown ticket sales (Exclusive); Smackdown TV ratings

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Exclusive: Backlash and Smackdown in Puerto Rico each generated gates over $1 million

WWE Backlash on May 6 in San Juan, Puerto Rico drew a $1,447,558 live gate from 15,145 paid attendees. An additional 1,351 tickets were comped for a total of 16,496 tickets distributed for the event at Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot. After 3% in service fees, the net revenue from ticket sales for Backlash was $1,404,266.

Smackdown the previous night at the same venue achieved another million-dollar gate, of $1,048,295 based on 14,282 tickets sold. For the Friday TV event, 1,270 tickets were comped, bringing tickets distributed to 15,552. After fees, net sales came to $1,016,955.

Gate receipts indicate both events were sold out, as the capacities listed for each event are equal to the number of tickets distributed.

Combined, the two events sold 29,427 tickets and, adding in comps, distributed a total of 30,627 tickets. Gross ticket sales totaled $2,495,873 and netted $2,421,221.

For the two events, there were also a total of 1,533 ticketed suite attendees.

Merchandise sold at the venue generated another $248,470, or $8.44 per paid ticket.

Wrestlenomics received the above information from the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority (PRCCDA) through a public records request.

WWE’s press release, put out last week Monday, claimed slightly higher attendances than the records we obtained can support. WWE said the events were attended by “[m]ore than 34,800 fans”, broken down as 16,896 for Smackdown and 17,944 for Backlash.

Adding suite tickets to the total tickets distributed count provided by the PRCCDA brings the total attendees for the two nights to 32,160, a few thousand lower than WWE’s claim.

The information provided by the PRCCDA implies an average sold ticket price for Backlash of $95.58. For Smackdown, the average ticket sold price was $73.40.

Backlash was likely the biggest gate ever for WWE in Puerto Rico, even when adjusting for inflation. According to Pollstar data, the New Years Revolution pay-per-view event in 2005 at the same venue in San Juan sold 13,570 tickets for a gate of $897,988 at the time, or $1,428,507, adjusted for inflation, which would put the 2005 show just under this year’s Backlash as a single event. The most recent house show in Puerto Rico, on October 2, 2021, drew 7,326 ticket sales, paying $489,793.

We also obtained a copy of the agreement between WWE and the PRCCDA, which verifies our earlier report that WWE received $1.5 million as a subsidy for bringing the events to the region. The agreement refers to the payment as a sponsorship fee and states the compensation is “in consideration for the promotional support provided by WWE and rights to use of the WWE intellectual property”.

As part of the contract, WWE agreed to provide, among other forms of promotion and marketing, “17M impressions across digital channels (, YouTube), with a total estimated 246M impressions, and a 1.820M dollar valuation in Non-Local Promotion”. A 30-second ad airing during one episode each of Smackdown, Raw, and Wrestlemania, before the events was also part of the agreement. Also promised was “at least four (4) WWE Superstars will showcase Puerto Rico through their own social media channels and/or WWE platforms before, during and/or after the Events.”

Part of the 17-page written agreement includes an acknowledgment that the PRCCDA would not refer to WWE as the “WWF” or “World Wrestling Federation”.

A portion of the contract reads: “It is understood that Authority [PRCCDA] shall not include any printed or written or other visual form or orally the initials ‘WWF’ (in any form, including the Titan logo and the Scratch Logo), the name or phrase ‘World Wrestling Federation’, and/or any words or any combination of words that may be shortened to the initials ‘WWF’ (‘Prohibited Marks’).”

Evidently Bad Bunny didn’t get the note (and there’s no reason to think he is a party to the local government’s agreement with WWE), as he coincidentally appeared on the show-closing angle on Smackdown in a jacket with a prominent WWF “scratch logo” on it.

Additional news & notes

  • Wade Keller noted yesterday the anticipated announcement of an AEW-WBD media deal is expected to include “roughly $240 million in rights fees” per year, which would come out to $1.2 billion over five years. If that ends up being the value of the deal, it would represent a 5.49x increase from the average annual value of AEW’s current deal of $43.75 million.
  • WWE’s presence at the NBCU upfront was minimal, with WWE content featured in a video package, according to PWInsider. On Friday, John Pollock and I will talk to Tony Maglio, who’s at the upfronts this week.
  • WWE CEO Nick Khan will speak at the MoffettNathanson TMT conference on Thursday at 1:00 pm ET, WWE announced today. Audio of the appearance will be webcast live and available for replay on WWE’s corporate website.
  • WrestleTix yesterday posted an updated estimate on AEW All In (August 27 at Wembley Stadium), with estimated tickets distributed at 65,979 and estimated paid ticket sales at 61,346.
  • WWE announced today it would issue 6.9 million WWE shares and an additional $3.9 million cash to convertible notes holders in exchange for $171 million. Bear with me; this is complicated, and I only loosely understand the transaction. The notes were originally issued in 2016, allowing WWE to raise $200 million cash for reasons I still haven’t understood. At the time WWE stated the company was raising money “to support the execution of the company’s long-term growth strategy and for general corporate purposes.” George Barrios, who was CFO at the time, gave the impression on an earnings call that some businesses were hesitant to do business with WWE because of the lack of cash on its balance sheet at the time. The note holders are financial institutions, and those who WWE made agreements with are JPMorgan, National Association, London Branch, Morgan Stanley, International plc, and Citibank. According to the original agreement, beginning on June 14 of this year the noteholders would get to decide whether they want to convert the notes from debt into WWE shares at a rate of $40 per $1000 they earlier loaned WWE (a rate of about $25 per share — now less than quarter of WWE’s current share price). WWE also entered into hedge transactions to protect against diluting the stock when the notes convert, including transactions that would kick in if the stock price reached $31.89, which it’s well above. When I researched this subject about a year ago, I concluded that the maximum dilution possible to the stock would be just over 8 million shares. WWE’s basic share count as of March 31 was 74,441,000 and diluted share count was 89,258,000. After the deal closes on or about May 18, WWE will then owe a remaining $42.7 million on the notes. If you’re still reading this and following at this point, feel free to share your thoughts at

TV ratings update

WWE Smackdown, Friday on Fox, was watched by 2,149,000 viewers on average, including about 731,000 aged 18 to 49, for a 0.56 P18-49 rating.

Compared to last week, Smackdown was up 4% in total viewership. Among viewers 18-49, viewership was up 8%.

Smackdown ranked #5 on television overall on the day in P18-49.

NBA playoffs on ESPN outranked Smackdown in P18-49 for Friday. Smackdown was ahead of the NHL playoffs on TNT.

Viewer counts in thousands, calculated from national ratings, for this week’s episode with difference versus the median of the last 28 days in parentheses:

P2+: 2149 (-3%)

P18-49: 731 (+0%)

P18-34: 239 (-6%)

P35-49: 492 (+3%)

P25-54: 913 (+1%)

Non-P18-49: 1418 (-5%)

Most-viewed YouTube videos from Smackdown, as of 4pm today:

Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa want the Tag Team Titles: 1,241,912

Roman Reigns makes The Usos apologize to him: 572,635

AJ Styles claims SmackDown’s World Heavyweight Title opportunity: 505,668

Asuka blinds Bianca Belair with a mist sneak attack: 504,648

Edge vs. Mysterio vs. Styles: 397,771

Cameron Grimes pins Baron Corbin in three seconds: 369,257

Bobby Lashley battles AJ Styles for a World Heavyweight Title opportunity: 362,403

Sheamus vs. Lashley vs. Theory – World Heavyweight Title Tournament Match: 352,770

Morgan & Rodriguez vs. Damage CTRL – Women’s Tag Team Title Match: 242,555

Pretty Deadly mock The Brawling Brutes: 148,203

This report was written with the assistance of automated programs created by me, then manually edited.

Subscribers have exclusive access to the Wrestlenomics Viewership Spreadsheet.

Brandon Thurston

Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also worked as an independent wrestler and trainer.

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