For the first time in more than a decade, professional wrestling television program WWE Raw is losing the so-called “Monday Night War,” this time to WWE’s own streaming video network.
Raw enjoyed 13 years of competition-free dominance on Mondays after finally vanquishing its fiercest rival, WCW Nitro, at the culmination of a cutthroat ratings war in the late-1990s.
But WWE created its own worst enemy in 2013 by launching the WWE Network, an online video provider which has lured fans with vintage events and specialty on-demand programming.
Last week, the WWE Network scored its first victory in what pundits are calling “The New Monday Night Wars,” as fans tuned away from Raw to watch an on-demand broadcast of ECW Hardcore Heaven 1997 on the WWE Network.
In an effort to stem the loss of viewers, Raw commentator Michael Cole attempted to provide “spoilers” for WWE Network events: “The Dudley Boys beat the Gangstas over on the WWE Network,” he said, adding sarcastically: “That’ll put butts in seats!”
It is widely believed that the WWE Network will eventually run WWE’s television programming out of business, at which point TNA will snap up free agents like JTG and Yoshi Tatsu.
The WWE Network is also handily winning the “Tuesday-Through-Sunday Night Wars,” particularly during the 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. period known as “the insomniac wrestling fan timeslot.”