New Study Looks At Why Less Adults Are Watching Pro Wrestling

A new study takes a look at why wrestling is declining in viewing numbers. The Variety Intelligence Platform has posted a report using date from a YouGov survey asking adults why they have stopped watching professional wrestling, noting that viewership on Raw has fallen by about 2 million from 2015 to 2020. The study looks at several main issues, some of the details of which you can see below.

The poll from YouGov spoke with 471 adults, defined as those who are 18 or over, who used to watch at least one of the list of WWE NXT, RAW, SmackDown or AEW Dynamite. The poll found the following reasons why people gave for why they have stopped watching pro wrestling:

It seemed more cartoonish than when I liked it: 30%
Storylines were not as good/interesting: 29%
Characters were not as good/interesting: 28%
Matches were not as good/interesting: 26%
Other: 24%
The content was more geared toward children: 14%
Not sure: 12%
Announcing was not as good: 9%
The show wasn’t listening to the fans: 7%

Another question was polled of 1,200 adults who are 18 or older, asking about their wrestling viewing habits. The results of that study found that 55% currently or used to watch wrestling, but only 12% do now:

I have never watched any shows or series: 43%
I used to watch professional wrestling, but no longer do: 43%
I currently watch professional wrestling regularly or occasionally: 12%
I don’t know: 2%

Fans who no longer watch pro wrestling in the United States were also polled. YouGov asked 652 adults aged 18 or older who no longer watch pro wrestling, about wrestling shows they used to watch. The following data was collected:

WWE RAW: 55%
WWE SmackDown: 55%
WWE NXT: 10%
AEW Dynamite: 3%
None of the above: 28%

The report also notes that WWE’s issues in particular are compounded by another issue: looking at the biggest children’s networks (Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Nick Jr., Cartoon Network, Nicktoons, Disney XD, Boomerang, and Universal Kids), primetime viewing habits have dropped off by 49%. This has had an impact on WWE, who of course famously shifted its programming to a more family-friendly product in the mid-’00s to allow for bigger and more lucrative sponsors. The shows remain TV-PG to this day.

You can see the full details from the study at the above link.

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