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Can WWE Raw Take Advantage Of ESPN's Monday Night Football Ratings Tumble?

Can WWE Raw Take Advantage Of ESPN's Monday Night Football Ratings Tumble?
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The fall season typically marks a difficult time of year for World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.'s (NYSE: WWE) flagship TV show "Raw." "Raw" airs on Monday nights, and the show always faces fierce fall competition from the NFL’s "Monday Night Football," which airs on Walt Disney Co's (NYSE: DIS) ESPN network.

The NFL, which has historically been a ratings juggernaut, has been struggling so far this season. In fact, this week’s "Monday Night Football" game between the Arizona Cardinals and the New York Jets registered a 6.3 overnight rating. For the second consecutive week, "Monday Night Football" has delivered the lowest rating ever since ESPN acquired the rights to the show back in 2006.

At the same time, "Raw" ratings jumped 12.4 percent this week on the return of fan favorite Bill Goldberg after a 12-year absence.

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Is WWE capitalizing on the NFL’s weakness? Goldberg’s return was a special event, but "Raw" was making its own record low ratings just last month. The September 26 episode of "Raw" drew a 1.8 rating, the lowest for any episode since the 1990s.

Despite the struggles of both WWE and the NFL, it’s important to keep falling ratings in context. An internal memo circulated at ESPN this week reminded employees that overall prime time TV viewership is down 36 percent in the past 15 years as cord-cutters have abandoned traditional TV for alternative streaming services.

Plus, the election season has siphoned off a portion of the TV audience as well. It’s no coincidence that "Raw’s" record low rating on September 26 fell on the same night as the first presidential debate, which drew the largest TV audience for any debate in history.

Image credit: Miguel Discart, Flickr

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