The Toronto Star has a story looking at the competition between WWE and AEW.
It was noted in the piece that SmackDown on Sportsnet360 in Canada averaged 155,000 viewers in 2021, 49% higher than the 104,000 viewers that AEW Dynamite on TSN averaged. However, the numbers are much closer in the 25-54 demographic, with SmackDown only topping Dynamite by 14.5% (71,000 viewers in the demo for SmackDown compared to 62,000 for Dynamite). The story cited the edgier content on AEW programming as one of the reasons that the margin in the demo is so slim.
WWE provided a statement for the article, taking a shot at the violence on AEW programming. The company specifically referenced the Anna Jay & Tay Conti vs. The Bunny & Penelope Ford street fight that aired on the New Year’s Smash edition of AEW Rampage.
“If you look at the gory self-mutilation that bloodied several women in the December 31 event on TNT, it quickly becomes clear that these are very different businesses,” WWE stated. “We had an edgier product in the ‘Attitude’ era and in a 2022 world, we don’t believe that type of dangerous and brutal display is appealing to network partners, sponsors, venues, children, or the general public as a whole.”
AEW President Tony Khan did not reply to WWE’s statement in the article. However, Khan did discuss AEW being competitive with WWE in some demographics.
“The plan was to put on the best wrestling show on television,” Khan told The Star. “When we started, we had a great roster and a lot of great people but there was more parity in the world of wrestling in terms of where people were signed. Did I expect that we would be competitive with the company that was number one in many of those metrics? Yeah, I did, and it’s gratifying that we have been.”