The unique experiment of running a live episode of Raw on Christmas Night with a commercial-free first hour at least proved the WWE and USA Network could maintain the core audience.
Monday’s episode averaged 2,690,000 viewers and was bolstered by the commercial-free hour that did 2,948,000 viewers. The second hour saw a drop down to 2,620,000 and the final hour averaged 2,543,000 viewers or a drop of 13.7% from the first hour.
The Monday Night Football game between Philadelphia and Oakland did 11,735,000 viewers on ESPN.
The overall Raw average was only down 86,000 viewers from last week’s number.
In addition to the commercial-free nature of the first hour, the show also started strong with John Cena’s first appearance on Raw since September. Cena’s segment led into a long match with Elias.
This was the second time that the WWE and USA Network experimented with a commercial-free gimmick for Raw. The last time they attempted this was in June 2009 for an episode built around Donald Trump and the entire three-hour show aired commercial free. The show did an enormous number with an average of 6,800,000 viewers but was never attempted again.
Next year, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be on a Monday and Tuesday and it will be interesting to see if they opt to run live programming on those nights.