It's no secret that ratings for Raw have been making news for all the wrong reasons lately. What may be more of a surprise to recent fans though, is that the decline of the show's performance is nothing new - in fact, except for a few brief rebound periods, numbers for Raw have been on the decline for the past 17 years.
The company's golden age for TV ratings was the Attitude Era, when combining an edgier product with more realistic and relatable characters propelled WWE into the national zeitgeist. With mainstream media covering WWE regularly, ratings skyrocketed. With WCW still doing strong business in 1998, that meant that 11,000,000 people a week watched wrestling on Mondays - and that was during football season.
As WCW weakened, WWE grew, and 1999 turned into the best year the company had ever had, ratings-wise. Raw broke its own records, and the result was a second prime-time show, this one airing on broadcast television. With SmackDown becoming a juggernaut in its own right, it felt like WWE controlled TV.
It turned out though, that 1999 would be WWE's ratings peak. In 2000, the viewership for Raw started to dip, and it's been doing it ever since. How did this happen? Here are the decisions WWE made that caused fans to abandon the company's flagship, listed in chronological order.