Move over, Chris Jericho. There's a new Demo God in town, and his name is Vincent Kennedy McMahon. The Genetic Jackhammer was asked about WWE's declining ratings during WWE's annual shareholder meeting, which was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. McMahon responded by citing social media success and pointing out that Smackdown is consistently the number one broadcast show "in key demos," even though the show loses when it comes to viewership.
Wrestlenomics did a thorough breakdown of the entire meeting, including transcribing relevant quotes. Here's what Vince McMahon had to say about the ratings.
We have a 30-plus year track record of creating compelling characters and engaging a variety of audiences, and we obviously remain confident we can continue that with our collective ability, even in the most challenging environments with no live audience.
The media echo system obviously has changed. We change with it. Our engagement metrics across platforms are understandably and obviously — however, the importance of linear programming is paramount in all of our businesses — we consistently have seen year-over-year increases in a variety of digital metrics and engagement. And positive trends have continued, even during COVID.
Conversely, TV viewership trends have been negatively impacted by COVID, obviously, and the lack of a live audience. We are still nonetheless the number-one television show on USA [Network] and consistently the number-one broadcast show on Fridays among key demos.
We expect a combination of valuable promotional inventory from our TV partners with the return of sports events programming. And a deep roster of charismatic talent will have a positive impact on viewership over the long-term.
WWE fans have lambasted AEW President Tony Khan for talking about the 18-49 demo in relation to the Wednesday Night Ratings Wars between AEW Dynamite and WWE's NXT brand. AEW star Chris Jericho, who declared himself "The Demo God" for being undefeated in the 18-49 demo on a recent episode of Dynamite, has also come under fire for focusing on the demo. But it looks like WWE is also willing to turn to people between the ages of 18-49, and their Twitter followers, when it comes to explaining away viewership that has been declining at disturbing rates. And McMahon is right. The 18-49 demographic has been what matters most to advertisers and networks, and therefore the most accurate measure of a television show's success for about two decades now. Maybe now that The Chairman himself has said so, the WWE Universe, along with my idiot colleague Chad, will come to accept it. Read the full shareholder meeting breakdown at Wrestlenomics.