On the latest episode of his “83 Weeks” podcast with Conrad Thompson, Eric Bischoff discussed his time as the Executive Director of SmackDown, and the various events surrounding it. One of the topics covered was the rating for the Premiere of SmackDown on FOX last October.
The first episode on October 9, 2019, drew a massive 3.9million viewers with a 1.4 rating in the 18-49 demographic. The following week, however, the show dropped to 2.9million with a 1.0 in the demographic – a loss of a quarter of their audience in the first week. On the subject, Bischoff said:
“It was a premiere episode that was getting massive amounts of promotion from FOX in the NFL, everywhere. Starting I think, the promotion started in August if my memory serves me correctly was when we first started seeing SmackDown commercials in broadcast. It was everywhere. I remember the dollar amount, and I probably shouldn’t repeat it but it was MASSIVE. Massive amounts of promotion. On top of that, you bring in guys like The Rock….and it was obviously just jam packed with talent.
One would expect to do a very very big number, and we did a 3.9. A week later it settled down to a what, 2.8 something like that?”
Bischoff continues, saying:
“So you lost a million views in one week. I’ve talked about this before – if I was still in WWE right now, I would be obsessed with finding out why those million people came, why did they sample, why did they leave, and why haven’t they come back? Because that’s the roadmap going forward. That’s building your brand. Let’s do a critical analysis of your own product, strategies and processes and try to make it better. As apoosed to just saying “eh. Those million people just didn’t show up the following week. Maybe because The Rock didn’t show up? Let’s just keep doing what we’re doing. Let’s not change anything” and I think that’s a mistake.”
Eric Bischoff then ties this into a discussion around AEW’s debut on TNT, who launched with 1.4million viewers. He says of WWE’s main competitor:
“Post-Covid they hover just under 1million viewers but still, where did that half a million viewers who decided not to go back go? I’d be going crazy trying to figure out why. Even if the answer was “Meh these were just casual people that just wanted to see what all the noise was about” that’s OK too, as long as I know that to be true. As long as there’s research and data to support that, I’d be fine with it. It drives me crazy to not know why.”