Who Won Friday Night's Ratings Battle Between WWE SmackDown and AEW Rampage?
This past Friday produced a unique situation for the world of pro wrestling. With Friday Night SmackDown shunted to FS1 for the night, WWE opted to add on an extra 30 minutes of commercial-free action that wound up running head-to-head with AEW Rampage on TNT. This led to an immediate response from AEW president Tony Khan, who claimed he looked forward to finally beating WWE's flagship program. He then spent the following week giving a boatload of interviews hyping up the show and even produced a one-hour Buy-In that ran against SmackDown's second hour and featured an instant classic between Bryan Danielson and New Japan's Minoru Suzuki.
The ratings for the two shows arrived on Monday via ShowBuzz Daily. SmackDown and Rampage tied with a 0.24 rating in the 18-49 target demographic, with SmackDown winning the female side .16 to .14 while Rampage won the male demographic 0.34 to 0.32. SmackDown brought in a noticeably higher viewership at 866,000 compared to Rampage's 578,000, though the Blue Brand saw its viewership take a sharp dive from last week's episode on FOX while Rampage's audience actually increased despite the competition.
Update: Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics has posted an update on the target demographic results, stating SmackDown brought in just 1,000 more viewers across its two-and-a-half hours.
P18-49— Brandon Thurston (@BrandonThurston) October 18, 2021
Each demo and margin is below.
Quarter-hours coming soon.
Updated report here: https://t.co/EWZNV3BUfs pic.twitter.com/IGfdUctObY
Update: Pro Wrestling Torch is now reporting that, when running head-to-head for 30 minutes, Rampage had the higher rating in the target demographic.
LET’S GO @AEW FANS, WRESTLERS, STAFF! EVERYONE, LFG #AEW!!!! https://t.co/CMAT5F0jCd— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) October 18, 2021
Khan explained in an interview with The New York Post last week why having AEW compete against WWE is good for business.
"We can build a big audience for this weekend," Khan said. "We've never had anything like this before with three hours of live wrestling on TNT on a weekend other than a pay-per-view. There are a ton of things happening at this time of year, there's a lot of sports. There's a lot of competition outside of wrestling. So if we're going to start trying to directly head-to-head compete with each other at this time of year where there are all these other things happening in sports, let's go. I'm not the one who threw the gloves off, but if somebody has to do the talking and sell the fight I will be the one to do it. In this case, I am doing all the talking and all the selling of the fight. I do think we need to go back to an era where there is all this excitement about the shows. It's clearly built buzz because a lot of people are talking about it.
"We got a great opportunity to draw people on the weekend in a new position for us," he added. "Rampage has launched very recently and we've had this great run of Wednesdays where we've had six straight weeks as the No. 1 show on all of cable television on Wednesday. And now Dynamite is being moved to a relatively unfamiliar Saturday night time slot. Three hours of weekend wrestling is very different. I put together the Buy-In as a response, but that took some time. I wasn't able to do that right away. So I wanted to let people know the gloves are off."