I thought this was pretty big news as Smackdown is moving to SyFy starting October 2010. Here is the official announcement:
World Wrestling Entertainment(R) and Syfy announced today a multi-year agreement that brings Friday Night SmackDown(R) to the "Imagine Greater" network beginning in October 2010. Friday Night SmackDown will premiere on its new home October 1st at 8:00 PM ET. The program, which debuted more than 10 years ago, is one of the longest-running, weekly episodic shows on television.
Syfy's original Friday night drama series will move to Tuesday night, where hit series such as Warehouse 13 and Eureka have yielded unprecedented ratings success. WWE NXT(TM) will leave Syfy in October as Friday Night SmackDown joins the schedule.
"WWE(R) is the ultimate in imagination-based sports entertainment. The fantastical thrills of Friday Night SmackDown provide an ideal addition to the Syfy slate, as it targets the younger male and female demographics, which are the fastest growing categories for WWE," said Dave Howe, President, Syfy. "With Tuesday night, a proven winner for our original drama series including Warehouse 13, there is bigger opportunity for series such as Stargate Universe, Sanctuary and Caprica to thrive on a night with a significantly larger number of viewers available to watch live."
"Syfy is a terrific partner and we look forward to bringing our proven ratings winner and ten year television institution, Friday Night SmackDown, to the network," said WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. "With this move, WWE is thrilled to be expanding its long-standing relationship with the NBC Universal family."
Friday Night SmackDown averages more than 3.4 million viewers a week and is currently the most watched TV program on Friday nights among Males under 55 and beats all Friday primetime programming on ABC, NBC, FOX and CW among Men 18-34*. The two hour television program will be presented weekly on Syfy and features a star-studded cast of WWE Superstars and Divas including Undertaker(R), Edge(R), Rey Mysterio(R), Chris Jericho(R), CM Punk(R), Michelle McCool(R), Beth Phoenix(TM) and Layla(TM).
The news is kind of shocking, but then again it isn’t when you look at the scope of the WWE now having all of its TV shows on cable.
Now the WWE has all their programming on NBC owned cable channels, the USA Network has Monday Night Raw. Vince McMahon has always had a close relationship with Dick Ebersol who is still the executive of NBC Sports. Will the ratings take a hit? The ratings won’t take a hit even though Smackdown is moving off of a major channel that anyone has access to as long as they have a TV. You have to imagine there will be a huge media blitz and campaign of commercials reminding fans about the switch when the times comes.
The only way the ratings change for Smackdown is if it moves back to Thursday nights. If the WWE did that, I could see the ratings spiking a little bit. Friday night is just a bad timeslot especially for the 18-35 demographic that all the advertisers love.
The WWE is okay with Smackdown being the “B” show. Fans even seem okay with it. But it could be so much more with a channel switch and moving back to Thursday. It would pump some energy into the show again and the WWE will actually be playing attention to something other than Raw.
Next step: A WWE cable channel.