Was Kenny Omega's First IMPACT Wrestling Run A Success?
Did The Best Bout Machine bring more eyeballs to IMPACT Wrestling?
Following Kenny Omega's AEW World Title win at Winter Is Coming, Don Callis uttered the words, "IMPACT Wrestling on AXS TV, me and Kenny will tell you all about it Marvez" and the landscape of professional wrestling outside of WWE changed.
The AEW World Champion proceeded to appear on IMPACT Wrestling on December 8 and enjoyed a seven-week run in the company before Don Callis and Omega announced on January 19 that they had some business to take care of Jacksonville.
Over the period, Omega reunited with his former Bullet Club stablemates The Good Brothers at Final Resolution and they embarked on a feud with Rich Swann and The Motor City Machine Guns which culminated in a main event six-man tag team match at Hard To Kill on January 16.
The question is, was Kenny Omega's first IMPACT Wrestling run a success?
Success in professional wrestling can be defined in many different days, from match quality to how many Bullet Club references Omega and The Good Brothers snuck into a two-hour broadcast. Ultimately, though, the success of the Kenny Omega experiment in IMPACT Wrestling will be determined by if The Best Bout Machine helped bring more eyeballs to the promotion's product.
To consider Omega's success, TV ratings, YouTube views and Twitch viewership over the period from the post-Bound For Glory 2020 episode of IMPACT Wrestling on October 27 to Omega's final appearance on January 19 will be focussed upon, with the exception of the End Of Year shows on December 22 and December 29. The buyrate for the Hard To Kill pay-per-view will also be considered, although final numbers are not currently available.
Ahead of Omega's first appearance, IMPACT Wrestling had been steady in the ratings on AXS TV, averaging 141,000 total viewers from October 27 to December 1. The Best Bout Machine instantly provided a massive boost for IMPACT, though, as the promotion drew it's highest viewership since moving to AXS TV with the December 8 episode, drawing 221,000 total viewers.
Viewership wouldn't reach those heights again, dropping by 20 percent to 177,000 viewers on December 15 before tumbling further for the three January shows. Even with the fall, though, average viewership for the January 5, January 12 and January 19 episodes was 152,000, 7.8 percent higher than what IMPACT had averaged before The Cleaner's arrival.
Omega's biggest boost to IMPACT was in the key 18-49 demographic, however. Wrestlenomics noted IMPACT was averaging 43,000 viewers in the key demo before Omega showed up, but similar to total viewership, numbers skyrocketed on December 8 and 98,000 people in the key demo tuned in to AXS TV for that week's show. Omega then continued to provide a boost, albeit smaller, during the January episodes and IMPACT averaged 54,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo, a 25.6 percent increase from before the AEW World Champion arrived.
Overall, The Best Bout Machine helped bring more eyeballs to the Nashville promotion's product on AXS TV and viewership remained higher than before he arrived during the seven-week run.
While on a much smaller scale than AXS TV, episodes of IMPACT Wrestling on Twitch received a similar boost in viewership following AEW Winter Is Coming.
Live streams of IMPACT Wrestling episodes averaged 2913 viewers during the pre-Omega period with a high of 3084 viewers on October 27 and a low of 2662 viewers on November 3. These numbers were blown out of the water on December 8, though, and the episode featuring Omega's first appearance averaged 42,945 viewers over the two-hour broadcast, an increase of 1374 percent.
Viewership on Twitch dramatically fell for the following week's show but 12,671 average viewers still quadrupled numbers from the pre-Omega period. Viewership then continued to fall for the three January shows, but they still averaged 5587 viewers, a 91 percent increase from the October 27 to December 1 period.
While Omega provided a boost in viewership on TV and Twitch for IMPACT Wrestling, clips featuring The Best Bout Machine also proved popular on YouTube.
Omega was featured in 5 of the 10 most-watched clips on IMPACT Wrestling's YouTube channel from October 27 to January 19, 3 of which were in the top 5, joined by Swoggle's appearance in IMPACT as The Weenomenal One and Matt Cardona's debut at Hard To Kill.
Check out the Top 10 most-watched YouTube videos below (viewership as of February 24, 2021):
1. The Weenomenal One vs. Ethan Page from November 24 IMPACT - 682, 225 viewers
2. Kenny Omega's entrance at Hard To Kill - 502, 325 viewers
3. Kenny Omega and Don Callis interview with Josh Matthews on December 8 IMPACT - 408, 388 viewers
4. Kenny Omega takes out Rich Swann on December 15 IMPACT - 364, 475 viewers
5. Matt Cardona's IMPACT Wrestling debut at Hard To Kill - 344, 973 viewers
6. Matt Hardy and Private Party appear in the IMPACT Zone on January 19 IMPACT - 287, 211 viewers
7. DECAY reunites on January 12 IMPACT - 249, 029 viewers
8. Kenny Omega reunited with Karl Anderson at Final Resolution - 225, 745 viewers
9. Kenny Omega hype video on December 8 IMPACT - 225, 005 viewers
10. Rohit Raju vs. Suicide on November 24 IMPACT - 196,003 viewers
Beyond weekly programming and an appearance at Final Resolution, Omega main evented the Hard To Kill pay-per-view alongside The Good Brothers in a six-man tag team match against Rich Swann, Chris Sabin and Moose. Alex Shelley was originally scheduled to be in the match, but he couldn't make the tapings.
The Best Bout Machine was front and centre of the promotion for the pay-per-view and according to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Hard To Kill drew IMPACT's second-highest pay-per-view buyrate since the company lost their Spike TV deal in December 2014.
The only pay-per-view to have garnered more buys in the last seven years was Slammiversary 2020, an event which had an enormous amount of buzz heading into it after IMPACT teased multiple former WWE Superstars would be debuting at the show.
Kenny Omega's first IMPACT Wrestling run can only be described as an unqualified success.
The Best Bout Machine boosted IMPACT Wrestling's viewership on AXS TV, with the show drawing in 221,000 viewers on December 8 and 177,000 on December 15 before settling around 152,000 over January. Even removing the two December shows, IMPACT's total viewership was up by 7.8 percent from the pre-Omega period from October 27 to December 1.
Omega's biggest boost to IMPACT on AXS TV was in the 18-49 demographic, though, where the promotion averaged 11,000 more viewers than before his arrival even when the December 8 episode isn't taken into account.
The AEW World Champion also drew more eyeballs to IMPACT Wrestling's product on Twitch. The show averaged just under 3000 viewers before his arrival, but viewership settled at 5587 viewers after the initial December highs.
In regards to YouTube, Omega was ultimately a must-watch commodity on the video-sharing platform, featuring in 5 of the 10 most-watched clips from October 27 to January 19. Only one viral clip in The Weenomenal One vs. Ethan Page attracted a larger viewership of 682, 225 and you have to drop to #5 to find the next popular clip not featuring The Best Bout Machine.
The success of Omega's IMPACT Wrestling run is only reinforced when considering Hard To Kill's pay-per-view buys. The Cleaner was at the centre of promotion for the event and the show ultimately drew IMPACT's second-highest buyrate since December 2014, only being topped by Slammiversary 2020.
The next question is, will Omega's second run in IMPACT Wrestling be as successful as his first? His return to the IMPACT Zone isn't expected to be too far away and The Cleaner appears to have a date with IMPACT World Champion Rich Swann on the horizon.