Could they have gotten away with Raw being 3 hours every week
They only had Raw around, and Smackdown wasn’t a thing? Meaning that those three hours of programming would be all you get of WWE’s main roster on non-PPV weeks.
No, the extra programming is an additional problem, but the main TV show at three hours is just too long to hold viewers, even if you’re not asking them to also invest two hours into Smackdown. I don’t think the pattern could be any more clear, when they routinely plummet hundreds of thousands of viewers every week once the third hour starts. Also, and I know we’ve beaten this drum all year, PPVs are too damn long as well and it’s not helping the problem. There’s no reason why these split shows can’t be cut to two hours, easily.