When it comes to the Thursday afternoon ratings scorecard, week eight of the Wednesday night wrestling war may be the most purely interesting to date. Thats because unlike most weeks, both sides can claim a win and there are reasons to debate in favor of each one. Previously, there was always a clear winnerusually AEWwho led in both total viewers and the rating itself in the key adults 18-49 years old demographic. This week, though, for the November 20th shows, WWEs NXT on USA Network edged out a small win in the average total viewership, while AEWs Dynamite on TNT bested its competitor in the key demo by about a third.
According to ShowBuzzDailys Wednesday cable originals rankings, Dynamite came in at eighth place in the demo with a 0.39% rating, but the average total viewership across the 120 minutes was 893,000 people. NXT, meanwhile, bested Dynamites total audience figure by averaging 916,000 viewers while pulling in a key demo rating of 0.30%. In other words, by 2019 standards, Dynamite was the more successful TV show for the night, but in terms of getting warm bodies in front of the TV that can potentially be converted into paying customers, NXT edged them out. (However, Nielsen ratings have an accepted 10% margin of error, so theyre effectively tied this week as far as the total audience figure.)
NXT saw gains over last week in a big way with total viewers over last week, gaining 166,000 over last weeks 750,000 figure; they were also up 20% in the key demo over last weeks 0.25% rating. The less lucrative 50+ demographic also went up from 0.35% to 0.40%. As for AEW, Dynamite was down 64,000 viewers compared to last weeks post pay-per-view total average audience of 957,000, while the key demo was down from 0.43% to 0.39%. Those drops are, respectively, well within and right at the accepted 10% margin of error for Nielsen ratings, though.
The elephant in the room right now, of course, is that NXT had a lot of main roster help as part of the hype for Survivor Series to get an increase and win as far as the total audience figure goes. But thats either unsustainable or something that would require a massive change in how NXT works if there was a desire to make any such changes permanent. Regardess, this week shows, more than any other so far, that you need to pay attention to a lot more than just a given nights total audience figures.
The original version of this article contained an incorrect citation; the link and relevant portion have both been corrected.
David Bixenspan is a freelance writer from Brooklyn, N.Y. He writes the Babyface v. Heel subscription blog/newsletter and co-hosts the Between The Sheets podcast every Monday at BetweenTheSheetsPod.com/everywhere else that podcasts are available. You can follow him on Twitter at @davidbix and view his portfolio at Clippings.me/davidbix.