USA staple expands to three hours with record aud

Auds flocked to USA’s wrestling staple “WWE Raw” on Monday as the show celebrated its 1,000th telecast with some record numbers.

The big night, which featured appearances by former stars, also served as the launch pad for “Raw’s” new regular third hour. Though it has aired for three hours in primetime in the past, it will now do so every week on USA.

According to Nielsen estimates, “WWE Raw” averaged 6.04 million viewers from 8 to 11 p.m. — its largest-ever audience and the first time hitting the 6-million mark. Its adults 25-54 viewership of 2.73 million also repped a high.

Now in its 19th season, “WWE Raw” remains television’s top-rated year-round cable program and has played a key role in USA leading the cable ratings pack for the last seven years.

On Monday, USA was the No. 1 television in primetime — broadcast or cable — in adults 18-34 (2.4 rating or about 1.6 million viewers) and topped all but Fox in 18-49 (2.3 rating or 3.1 million) and total viewers.

Among cable networks, USA bested runner-up VH1 by 50% in adults 18-49 and 73% in adults 25-54. And in total viewers, it beat second-place TNT by 39%.

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