In a story that fell way under the radar, but has also sort of been floating around for months, I can confirm that AXS TV, home of Impact Wrestling and Women of Wrestling, is now, like the major networks, rated by Nielsen. Under Mark Cuban’s majority ownership, AXS was never tracked by Nielsen the way most networks are, instead relying on separate figures from Rentrak/Comscore, which measured viewership via regular cable and satellite set-top boxes. While it could very well be as accurate as or more accurate than Nielsen’s industry-standard ratings, Nielsen is the accepted standard by advertisers, so AXS generally didn’t run regular commercial spots.
An AXS spokesperson confirmed AXS’s Nielsen-rated status in response to an email from this reporter. The change had been suspected since December 30th, when The Wrap published its annual list of the top 115 cable networks, ranked in two separate lists by average audience, both in prime time and and across the entire day. There, AXS came in at an average of 64,000 viewers in prime time, good enough for 92nd place in that day part, and 26,000 viewers across the entire day, good enough for 99th place in the more overarching list. According to the AXS spokesperson, the network had been in its introductory information-gathering period for about a month at the time, with the network’s programming being properly Nielsen-rated on a show-by-show basis since the start of 2020.
Impact’s previous homes, in order of most to least recent, came in as follows:
Pursuit: Not listed.
Pop: 128,000 in prime time (67th place) and 64,000 across the entire day (75th place).
Destination America: 72,000 in prime time 86th place) and 47,000 across the entire day (83rd place).
Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV): 396,000 in prime time (34th place) and 271,000 across the entire day (26th place).
So, how has Impact been doing in the Nielsen ratings? We don’t really know. Show Buzz Daily, the remaining website with reliable regular ratings data, only runs a list of the top 150 cable shows each day in the key adults aged 18-49 demographic, and Impact hasn’t hit the top 150 once. Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer, the lone wrestling reporter to regularly have any kind of deeper ratings access, hasn’t reported any Impact numbers this year, either. All we can really say is that, in the 18-49 demographic, it’s doing worse than 150th rated show on Tuesdays, which usually—but not always, as it was a tick lower two weeks ago—does a 0.04% rating in that demo group.
Prior to the move to AXS, Impact on Pursuit rarely registered a rating that anyone reported, only posting a reported average total audience in the 10,000 to 13,000 range in its early weeks. The Pursuit run was also marred by issues like the wrong episode airing, episodes being listed incorrectly in guide data and disrupting DVR recordings, the show name being changed in guide data without notice and further disrupting DVR recordings, and an episode never coming back from a commercial break, causing the main event to not air. (Viewership was also low enough that, unlike past broadcast issues on bigger networks, this wasn’t reported anywhere for two days until one of the hosts of the Voices of Wrestling podcast tried to watch it on his DVR.)
Meanwhile, the final broadcast on Pop, the January 3, 2019 edition, drew a 0.05% rating in the key demo, good enough for 137th place, with an average total audience of 151,000 across all demos.