A new study done by Magna Global for Sports Business Journal has made some very interesting findings with regards to the average age of all sports fans, but particularly fans of the WWE. To put it simply: WWE fans are a lot older than they used to be!
The study looked at Nielsen television viewership data from 25 sports in 2000, 2006, and 2016, and while all but one of the sports has seen the average age of their audience increase from 15 and 10 years ago, the biggest increase was found among wrestling fans.
Looking at the numbers, they show that back at the turn of the century in 2000 the median age of pro wrestling fans was 28 (the youngest of all the sports they were able to get stats for). In 2006 the median age was 33 - an increase over 2000, but still among the youngest viewerships in sports. Skip to 2016 though and the numbers look really different.
In 2016 the average age of pro wrestling viewers was 54! That is a +21 year jump in just 10 years and a +26 year jump from 2000 which is a bigger increase than any other sport on the list (the NHL is in second place over that same span with a +15 increase, but with only a +7 year jump on the last 10 years).
Not everyone agrees with these numbers though. Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter was quoted by Deadspin.com that he feels those number are a little high, saying: "The premise is accurate but current average sounds high, Raw & SD are still in 40s."
Regardless of what the exact numbers are, there is no doubting the fact that pro wrestling fans are getting older. Deadspin pointed out in their analysis of the situation that many of the fans that came on board during the "Attitude Era" 15-20 years ago got hooked and are still viewers today, but it would appear that the WWE hasn't been able to grow a new, younger fan base to replace them.
This might be hard for the WWE to swallow, given that they spent the good part of 2008-2014 in what has been dubbed the "PG Era" which has been more kid/family-friendly. Not only did many older fans complain and mock it but it doesn't look like it had the effect of really growing the younger base either.