NEWS UPDATE: AEW Dynamite TV ratings analysis; WBD-AEW option for 2024; WWE ratings up especially because of male viewership; WWE convertible notes

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Tony Khan expects AEW on TNT and TBS next year

John Pollock and I spoke with AEW CEO Tony Khan on Monday afternoon. On the subject of whether AEW’s one-year option to extend the TV deal with Warner Bros. Discovery throughout 2024, I asked Khan if fans should expect AEW to continue to air on TBS and TNT in January.

“I would expect that,” Khan said. “And I can’t say much because of our contract with Warner Bros. Discovery but I definitely think we’re planning into 2024 for that and hopefully for a very long, long time.”

It’s certainly not a confirmation that the option has been executed but Khan clearly expects AEW programming to be on WBD networks through the term of the option.

He also confirmed that Battle of the Belts, the quarterly one-hour special that has most recently aired right after Rampage on Fridays, will continue despite the addition of new weekly show Collision.

Khan wouldn’t speak to whether the New York Post’s recent report is accurate, which says WBD doesn’t have an exclusivity agreement with AEW for wrestling content, meaning the network could potentially bid on WWE live rights that are now on the open market.

As usual, Khan was guarded about subjects related to CM Punk and AEW’s TV deal.

WWE’s ratings increases are driven especially by male viewership

The increase in WWE viewership over the last year has been concentrated with younger viewership, within the key ad demo among viewers aged 18 to 49.

But it’s younger male viewership that’s especially driving the increase. Comparing the first half of last year to this year-to-date, it’s M18-34 that has the biggest increases by percentage. NXT leads the way in this, up 67% from the nearly-same period last year. In fact, in the case of NXT, middle-aged men, M35-49 is actually down 14% by the same comparison.

For Raw, M18-34 is up 32%. For Smackdown, M18-34 is up 26%.

Younger and older female demos, F18-34 and F35-49, are mostly up too, just not to the same extent as male demographics.

Meanwhile, for Dynamite, M18-34 is the only one of the four subsets we looked at here that was up, increasing 2% from last year, while other demos are down by as much as 25%. And while Rampage is down in all four subsets, M18-34 is the one that’s declined the least, at -19%.

Is there a narrative here? Male viewers make up the majority of all these shows. You can easily formulate a tempting one around the notion that WWE’s storylines — at least one or two key ones — have improved and drawn in more male viewership, that is, the (hard?) core wrestling fan formerly more hesitant about tuning in. But even NXT, lacking anything like Bloodline drama as Smackdown has or Cody Rhodes adding intrigue on Raw, has increased the most with that core subset.

Has NXT improved too? Literally, at attracting viewers, in the demo at least, it has. Cagematch ratings for the show are higher than in the nearly-same period last year, but they haven’t improved as much as Raw or Smackdown.

See the related charts below

WWE’s convertible notes

In December 2016, WWE raised $194 million in cash by offering convertible notes, which were purchased by major banks.

That transaction has a maturity date of June 14, 2023, yesterday. From yesterday through December 15, 2023, noteholders can convert their debt to WWE stock at a rate of 40.14 shares per $1,000, which comes out to $24.91 per share.

WWE disclosed in a filing yesterday that noteholders have been notified that the company has decided to settle with noteholders by issuing stock, as opposed to cash or a combination of cash and stock; the terms of the transaction gave WWE the choice.

With the value of the stock now hovering around $100, and today closing at $103.42, noteholders will have access to shares at about one-quarter of the full price.

If I’m understanding this complex transaction correctly, noteholders (again, big banks), can execute on the conversions at any time during the next six months, probably incrementally, as opposed to all at once. The six-month window within which the conversions can take place should minimize volatility to WWE’s stock price.

Issuing new shares upon those conversions will dilute WWE’s stock, but around the time that it raised the cash in 2016, the company entered into note hedge transactions intended to reduce dilution in this scenario.

TV ratings: AEW Dynamite, June 14

AEW Dynamite last night on TBS, was watched by 832,000 viewers on average, including about 391,000 aged 18 to 49, for a 0.30 P18-49 rating.

Compared to last week, Dynamite was down 8% in total viewership. Among viewers 18 to 49, viewership was down 10% from last week’s 435,000.

Dynamite ranked #3 in P18-49 among cable originals for the day, according to Showbuzz Daily. Including broadcast primetime, it ranked #5.

Yankees vs. Mets on ESPN (0.42) ranked #1 for Wednesday, ahead of everything on cable and broadcast primetime. Vanderpump Rules on Bravo also outranked Dynamite.

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+: 832 (-5%)

P18-49: 391 (-2%)

M18-49: 273 (-5%)

F18-49: 118 (+0%)

P18-34: 176 (+9%)

P35-49: 216 (-11%)

Non-P18-49: 441 (-4%)

F12-34: 71 (+26%)

M12-34: 115 (-2%)

P25-54: 462 (-5%)

P50+: 409 (-1%)

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

WHAT A MOMENT! Darby Allin & Chris Jericho Confront Sammy Guevara. IT’S STING!: 462,839

Did Adam Cole earn his AEW World Title opportunity against MJF: 161,753

CM Punk Is Returning To AEW & Has A Lot Of Things To Get Off His Chest: 124,434

Sting, Orange Cassidy, Keith Lee & Darby Allin battle the Mogul Embassy! : 122,253

Cowboy Combat Club! The Elite vs. BCC in Trios Action!: 119,508

Could TNT Champion Wardlow, fend off Jake Hager?: 83,028

Eddie Kingston Returns! Will Ospreay Gets Revenge! Absolute Mayhem At End Of AEW Dynamite!: 79,965

OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME! Skye Blue challenges AEW Women’s Champ Toni Storm!: 70,565

This ratings 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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