Following the announcement of long-time Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon’s, Triple H returned to the company as both the Head of Talent Relations and Head of Creative, with noticable changes in the presentation of both main roster shows having been made. As a result, fan interest in the product has seen a notable spike, with the first episode of Raw following Triple H’s appointment landing at over 2.2 million viewers, which was the most in over two years.
Fightful Select are now reporting that these changes and subsequent ratings increases have been positively recieved by the USA Network, with the belief being that the viewership figures are now back at the levels the network expected when they signed their initial deal with the company, although they acknowledged that the pandemic had some bearing on the previously low figures.
“Fightful reached out to several USA Network and Universal sources about the change, and the numbers that came with them. One longtime employee that has worked alongside the WWE project said that this was more in line with the numbers the company expected when they extended WWE Raw’s deal, but that the pandemic changed “everything.” They reiterated that they had never really imagined a world where Raw was under 2 million viewers outside of holidays, much less consistently. The source said “the following weeks were be the real test, but the results from the first Monday had me personally very excited.””-Fightful
Since Triple H’s rise to power, Raw has consistently been above or marginally below the 2 million viewers mark, a feat that one USA Network source claimed they didn’t expect to achieve again when Fightful reached out to them.
Another source in Universal that told Fightful they keep up with wrestling more than others claimed that they didn’t personally expect the changes to be so drastic, although they admitted that the buzz created around the show has been undeniable. The same source also told Fightful that they expected Smackdown’s numbers on Fox to see an increase as well, noting that they hoped it exceeded the impressive viewership the show did when McMahon appeared on the show following the initial Wall Street Journal report.
Regarding the content of the show itself, USA Network sources told Fightful that they’ve personally seen the show as more appointment viewing, with the general direction feeling more natural. Additionally, it was noted that there’s been more discussion about the shows themselves amongst USA Network employees than there has been since their new rights deal started.
One long-time employee of the USA Network told Fightful that the relationship between the two companies has long been an easygoing, business as usual one. Despite this, said long-time employee stated that those within the company were happy to see the creative changes implemented in August following Triple H’s appointment.
The same source also told Fightful that they wouldn’t be surprised to see the USA Network make a play to renew their deal with WWE programing next year when negotiations are likely to start, with the belief being that the changes made to the product overall has put WWE in an even better position than before.