Dark side of the ring, the professional wrestling documentary series on Vice TV (formerly Viceland) started its second season on Tuesday night, opening with a widely acclaimed two-part episode about Chris Benoit. The first season of the series had been a surprise success for the besieged network, attracting the greatest number of viewers for an original series in its history, so whether or not they could build on this success was a major question before the new season. Since they started the season with a highly publicized two-hour episode on the biggest mainstream report in wrestling history, that seemed like a strong possibility.
And they did.
According to the list published by Show Buzz Daily of Tuesday's first 150 cables in the key demographic category of 18-49 year olds, the two-hour episode came in 80th place with a score of 0.14%, almost double the previous broadcast record. As the total number of average viewers in the two hours passed, the series drew 320,000 viewers, another record in the series. . In the key demo, the previous peak was 0.08% for this episode and for the next week’s edition about the death of Gino Hernandez, so Benoit’s episode a exceeded by 75%.
All of this is particularly impressive since the first half of the two-part episode had been online for free for a few days.
Tuesday also presented the first of the series Dark side: after dark, an "after-show" hosted by comedian / wrestling fan Chris Gethard. While the series, which had received little or no hype, lost a substantial part of its introduction, it still did well enough to rank comfortably in the top 150 with a score of 0.05% in the demo key. (The half hour count averaged 127,000 viewers in total.)
Tracking the grades this season should prove to be quite interesting. Last year, it was a word of mouth word of mouth for his network, growing steadily for the first four weeks, showing a statistically negligible drop in week five (impressive because it presented the least known subject of the season at the national level, Hernandez), then dropped slightly for the season finale (about The Fabulous Moolah). This year they launched the best known topic possible and more than doubled the total audience (154,000) and the key demo rating (0.06%) from the premiere of last year.
The success of a show like this, which the network replays in abundance, does not depend solely on the premiere of each episode, the classification of an episode that we can easily follow. But if they keep going, Dark side of the ring is likely to stay long, despite everything.
David Bixenspan is a freelance writer from Brooklyn, New York. He writes the Babyface c. Heel blog / newsletter subscription and co-hosts the podcast Between The Sheets every Monday at BetweenTheSheetsPod.com/ everywhere else where podcasts are available. You can follow him on Twitter at @davidbix and see his portfolio on Clippings.me/davidbix.