NEWS UPDATE: Nick Khan at JPMorgan TMT, WWE Raw TV rating

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  • Nick Khan spoke at the JPMorgan TMT conference today, talking with analyst David Karnovsky. He said WWE is still in the exclusive negotiating window for Raw with NBCU, but that the exclusive window with Fox for Smackdown has just ended. He mentioned the 3.6x increase in U.S. rights in the last cycle, saying, “We’re certainly not expecting something like that here, but we’re expecting something great.” He made the case for why Raw should get an upgrade from NBCU, saying, “If you look at the high sub fees USA [Network] continues to get, which it deserves, we think WWE is a big part of that.”
  • Though it’s hard to imagine, he seemed to suggest there’s a way for WWE to end up with more than two U.S. media partners. “We followed the NBA’s playbook five years ago in wanting to not have one exclusive partner for Raw and Smackdown, and to split them, again, two ways. And now we’re looking at the marketplace in its totality and thinking there might be more options than even that.”
  • On the length of the shows, he said, “Raw is three hours. We don’t anticipate that changing. But there’s internal conversations on the 10 to 11 hour… To make it a little more adult-themed is something we’re discussing internally.” And on Smackdown: “We’re still open to a third hour for Smackdown. Fox, as it’s currently constituted, is a two-hour primetime, so that’s the deal [a two-hour program] that Fox wanted to do four-five years ago.” He made clear that Raw or Smackdown could be moved to any night of the week. He noted again “Amazon wants to program different nights of the week.”
  • Karnovsky asked how NXT plays into the rights deal and whether WWE is willing to be more experimental with distribution for that show. Khan said “I think we’re up 20% or so year-over-year,” referring to NXT TV ratings, which isn’t accurate. NXT is down 2% and down 3% in total viewership in Q1 and Q2 to date, respectively. NXT is up in P18-49 year-over-year, but not 20%. The show was up 5% in the demo in Q1 and is currently up 12% in Q2 to date. Raw and Smackdown are currently up about 20% each in P18-49 in Q2 to date.
  • He said WWE’s former long-time UK media partner Sky was disappointed with the lack of televised events in the UK. Events like Money in the Bank in London and Clash at the Castle in Cardiff address that. He seemed to push Sky as well as current partner BT Sport as bidders for the next cycle for the UK, which I believe expires around December 2024.
  • On recruiting, he explained the strategy behind attracting college athletes. He acknowledged that talent will continue to come out of independent wrestling. On their previous recruiting strategy, he said, “It was mining the independent wrestling territories to find the next great WWE superstar, so soon, that we mined a lot of that. And, yes, there will be stars that continue to come out of there.” He later added, “We pay our women as well as we do our men.”
  • About site fees, Khan said WWE is currently in negotiations with a lot of international cities for future PLEs. “Our goal is each one of these premium live events should have some sort of subsidy. It’s going to take a while to get there.” WWE got site fees for Clash at the Castle in Cardiff, Backlash in Puerto Rico, and I believe Royal Rumble in San Antonio as well as Wrestlemania in Los Angeles. Audio of the entire talk is available in your subscriber podcast feed.
  • The Tony Khan media call ahead of Double or Nothing will take place on Thursday at 2 pm ET. After the call ends, we’ll have audio in your subscriber podcast feed.
  • Enlighted announced it will partner with WWE to provide energy-efficient services for the new WWE HQ
WWE Raw last night on USA Network, was watched by 1,638,000 viewers on average, including about 704,000 aged 18 to 49, for a 0.54 P18-49 rating. Raw ranked #5 in P18-49 among cable originals for the day, according to Showbuzz Daily. Including broadcast primetime, it ranked #5. This was Raw’s lowest total viewership since January 16. Compared to last week, Raw was down 5% in total viewership. Among viewers 18 to 49, viewership was down 7% from last week’s 755,000. The NBA conference final game on ESPN was #1 in P18-49 for the day, which resulted in NBA Courtside and two Sportscenter telecasts also outranking Raw in the demo. All three hours of Raw, however, outranked the NHL conference final game on TNT, and everything on broadcast except Jeopardy Masters in ABC. 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+: 1638 (-8%) P18-49: 704 (-1%) M18-49: 454 (-3%) F18-49: 245 (-1%) P18-34: 281 (+0%) P35-49: 423 (-3%) F12-34: 94 (-11%) M12-34: 216 (+10%) P25-54: 827 (-3%) P50+: 866 (-12%) Most-viewed YouTube videos from Raw, as of 4pm today: Brock Lesnar injures Cody Rhodes in backstage sneak attack: 511,609 Brock Lesnar locks an injured Cody Rhodes in the Kimura Lock: 356,155 Cody Rhodes tells Triple H he will battle Brock Lesnar despite injury: 349,212 Paul Heyman issues an Undisputed WWE Tag Team Title Match spoiler: 278,324 Trish Stratus turns the tables on Becky Lynch during Contract Signing: 220,468 Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn & Matt Riddle vs. Imperium: 207,300 Five chaotic moments on Raw: 170,823 Riddle helps Zayn and Owens in brawl with Imperium: 169,814 Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Finn Bálor: 148,839 The Alpha Academy vs. The Viking Raiders: 137,399 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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