Home AEW Notebook: Measuring the ‘Big Bang’ effect; should Sheldon Cooper get booked?

AEW Notebook: Measuring the ‘Big Bang’ effect; should Sheldon Cooper get booked?

Chris Graham
big bang theory
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Much is made on the interwebs and on my favorite wrestling podcasts, those featuring legendary manager and booker Jim Cornette, about the lead-in for AEW “Dynamite” from reruns of “The Big Bang Theory,” to the point that it’s said sarcastically in some quarters that Sheldon Cooper should maybe be in the main-event mix in AEW.

One big problem with this idea: it just doesn’t work out numbers-wise.

Of course, I’ll explain.

For starters, let’s establish a baseline.

“Big Bang,” in general, is a big ratings producer for TBS; 21 reruns of the show topped the 1 million viewer mark last week, per Spoiler TV.

Now, to last week’s “Big Bang” lead-in, 7:30-8 p.m. ET, which averaged 1.248 million viewers, according to Spoiler TV.

The 7-7:30 p.m. ET “Big Bang” drew an average of 1.102 million viewers.

I note that to throw out the idea that I might not be the only person who tunes in a few minutes early to make sure that I don’t miss the opening shot of “Dynamite,” creating a sorta, kinda, reverse lead-in effect, with “Dynamite” giving a slight boost to the 7:30-8 p.m. ET Wednesday airing of “Big Bang.”

Next, to the “Dynamite” numbers that AEW detractors love to cite as being artificially inflated in the first quarter-hour.

According to Wrestlenomics, the 8-8:15 p.m. ET quarter-hour of “Dynamite” on Jan. 3 averaged 1.063 million viewers, down 185,000 viewers, 14.8 percent, from the “Big Bang” lead-in.

Not good.

Also not good: the second quarter-hour of “Dynamite,” the 8:15-8:30 p.m. ET QH, dropped further, to 858,000, down 390,000 viewers, 31.3 percent, from the “Big Bang” lead-in.

It’s suggested, by Cornette and others, that we should almost discount the first QH average from the overall average of the two-hour show because of the impact of the “Big Bang” lead-in.

Here’s the math problem there: the 1.063 million number isn’t a first-minute number, but rather, an average of the number of viewers for the entire 15 minutes of the quarter-hour.

If, as the people having fun with this suggest, the first 15 minutes of “Dynamite” was getting an artificial ratings boost because people who had been watching “Big Bang” were just not changing the channel quickly enough, it’s hard to think that we’d see anywhere near the QH number that we see for the entire 15 minutes.

Let’s assume, for example, that there were 1.248 million people tuned in to TBS for “Big Bang” at 7:59 p.m. ET, and then continuing at 8 p.m. ET, and remaining at 8:01 p.m. ET, so that they’re there for an entire ratings minute.

Then, the “Big Bang” viewers realize, “Big Bang” is over, time to find something else to watch.

If the 858,000-viewer average for QH2 of “Dynamite” is reflective of the actual audience for the wrestling show, and the 390,000 lingering “Big Bang” fans logged off after a minute of “Dynamite,” the average for the entire QH would be 884,000 viewers.

By my math, an audience comparable to the 1.248 million “Big Bang” viewers would have to hold on for an entire eight minutes before logging off en masse to give us the QH1 and QH2 numbers that we saw from “Dynamite” last week.

Obviously, TV doesn’t work that way; it’s more likely that there are several things going on here.

There’s a number of AEW fans, like me, who tune in early to the end of the 7:30-8 p.m. ET “Big Bang,” giving that show a ratings boost; some “Big Bang” fans hang around for a minute or two of “Dynamite” either out of curiosity or just not paying attention to their TV; and there are AEW fans who tune in just before 8 ET, at 8 ET, or sometime in the first QH, see what the first segment is, what is being advertised on the show, then tune out, perhaps to tune back in later, perhaps to play with their phones.

Tony Khan doesn’t need to pull a Vince Russo and book David Arquette to win the world title, is what I’m getting at here.

It wouldn’t hurt if Khan could better use the roster that he has to build his audience from the 800,000 or so that he seems to have gotten stuck at in the ratings the past several weeks.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].