In a pivotal turn of events, WWE SmackDown's season premiere not only marked the much-anticipated return of Universal Champion Roman Reigns but also saw a modest uptick in its viewership metrics. According to analytics from Wrestlenomics, the October 13 episode experienced a 4% surge in audience numbers, pulling in 2,417,000 viewers compared to the previous week's 2,319,000.
However, the show witnessed a 2% dip in its key 18-49 demographic.
Despite consistently leading the sports broadcasting chart on Fridays, SmackDown relinquished its top spot last week to the Colorado vs.
Stanford college football clash, which amassed an audience of 3,288,000. Notably, this halt in SmackDown's domination came even as the wrestling spectacle has been enjoying a steady uptick in viewership over the last several months.
Year-over-year, the show has marked a 6.3% increment in total viewers and a remarkable 14.8% rise in its key 18-49 demographic. The indomitable presence of Roman Reigns, whose return was one of the most anticipated segments of the premiere, played a crucial role in boosting these numbers.
The gravity of Reigns' star appeal was evident in the YouTube metrics as well. His electric confrontation with LA Knight garnered a whopping 1.2 million views, becoming the most-watched segment from Friday's episode. Moreover, a charged full segment featuring not just Reigns and Knight, but also WWE legends John Cena and Paul Heyman, as well as Solo Sikoa, drew over 900,000 views.
Cody Rhodes, Reigns' expected opponent at WrestleMania 39, also shared a brief but intense staredown with "The Tribal Chief" during last week’s episode. This teaser amassed an impressive 870,000 views. Together, Reigns and Knight took command of WWE's most-viewed YouTube content, with two additional videos featuring them breaking into the platform's top 10 for the week.
But it wasn't just Reigns and Knight who grabbed the spotlight; other noteworthy developments included Kevin Owens' switch to SmackDown, Jade Cargill's intriguing backstage rendezvous with Charlotte Flair, and the introduction of Nick Aldis as the new General Manager of SmackDown, all raking in over 600,000 views