What Does A Return To Broadcast Network Television Mean For WWE SmackDown?
May 24, 2018 - WWE
It’s not official yet, as everybody concerned is disappearing to comment, yet the news pennyless on Monday that WWE’s SmackDown Live is relocating to Friday nights on Fox—as in a promote network that’s now a home of Empire—in Oct 2019. The pierce outlines a initial time that WWE has had a weekly participation on promote radio given SmackDown changed to Syfy in 2010, and it’s a promotion’s initial time on a promote network given 2009, when MyNetworkTV became a syndicated package. More to a point, it’s WWE’s initial ever army on one of a vital promote networks. Sure, SmackDown premiered on UPN before being engrossed into The CW and relocating to MNTV, yet those were a step or dual next ABC, CBS, NBC, and eventually Fox in a a over-the-air pecking order. Other than periodic specials like Saturday Night’s Main Event, The Main Event, Tribute to a Troops, and WrestleMania: The World Television Premiere on NBC and Fox, a usually other WWE uncover on a vital networks was DIC Entertainment’s Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling animation on CBS in a mid-1980s. All of that means that SmackDown’s pierce to Fox is concurrently a lapse to past excellence and and an feat that stands detached from anything WWE has finished before.
When SmackDown initial launched as UPN’s sole Thursday night uncover behind in 1999, it immediately captivated a madness of L. Brent Bozell’s regressive Parents Television Council. This was a tallness of WWE’s “Attitude Era,” and a promotion’s programming featured an extreme volume of passionate calm and was some-more viscerally aroused than before. Bozell was some-more uneasy by a former, and pounced on WWE’s participation on “the open airwaves.” With a FCC carrying no governance over a calm of wire programming, SmackDown was an opening for Bozell—and it was mostly Bozell, as a PTC’s membership was severely exaggerated— to try his luck. Advertisers perceived working letters from Bozell’s organization, with Bozell himself revelation the AP that, “We’re revelation these companies we can no longer heed a values of a unite from a values of a uncover they sponsor.” Shortly thereafter, with both Coca-Cola and a U.S. troops pulling their spots, SmackDown was toned down. WWE lowered a parental guideline rating from TV-14 to TV-PG, and has stayed there ever since.
Bozell pulled some of his some-more thespian complaints clearly out of skinny air—for instance, claiming that a child who killed a tiny lady and claimed they were “wrestling” used a Stone Cold Stunner to murder her, or that SmackDown contained uncensored “YOU GOT FUCKED!” chants. WWE sued him for it, and a insult lawsuit was staid in 2002, prolonged after WWE was toned down; a allotment resulted in an reparation from Bozell and a $3.5 million payout. The PTC mostly corroborated divided from WWE criticism, yet they did start targeting wire and even streaming shows; their latest effort is opposite Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. Now that WWE has toned down a content—all their shows went TV-PG opposite a house behind in 2007—an accurate repeat of this problem seems unlikely.
Which isn’t to contend that there aren’t risks for WWE in a pierce behind to over-the-air television. We have no idea what form of out proviso Fox competence or competence not have, yet everything, from calm to ratings, will apparently be underneath incomparable inner and outmost inspection than ever before. According to TV By The Numbers, final week’s SmackDown Live on USA drew an normal of 2,298,000 viewers opposite dual hours on Tuesday, while Fox’s Masterchef Junior averaged 3,320,000 viewers opposite a same two-hour container on Friday. The cooking foe won a night in terms of ratings in a pivotal adults 18-49 demographic, nonetheless CBS’s Hawaii Five-O had a tip sum assembly during 6.62 million viewers. One would design SmackDown to get something of a strike from a bigger star of homes that have Fox, and WWE will fundamentally bucket adult a uncover with a biggest names to get it; we would gamble all we have, for instance, on Ronda Rousey relocating over from Monday Night Raw.
But there is also a doubt of how relocating to Fridays will harm SmackDown’s numbers. Fox is scandalous for carrying an tingling trigger finger when it comes to canceling shows, generally on Fridays, to a indicate that it’s a network many closely associated with a “Friday night genocide slot” moniker. This is a really opposite universe from a one in that shows like Firefly got cancelled for underperforming opposite impractical expectations, though, and a WWE radio package’s value lies in vast partial in Raw and SmackDown airing live. Acquiring WWE programming is as most about gripping DVR numbers low as anything else, that means that smaller viewership is glorious if those viewers are examination live—both a matches and a commercials.
The biggest doubt symbol in all of this is ad rates. Historically, it’s been taken as a given that pro wrestling would get about half a ad income that other programming with a ratings would routinely receive, clearly due to disastrous perceptions about a fanbase. Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer reported on his podcast dual years ago that a rates had dipped to one-seventh of those on UFC’s wire TV cards, that also have smaller audiences; he estimated that WWE warranted about one-tenth of a “average” allied show. Meltzer has reported before that USA was happy with WWE as a detriment personality if it helped say a network’s standing as, depending on a moment, possibly a or a tip wire network in primary time. Fox is reduction expected to do that, yet it also seems doubtful that SmackDown’s ad rates will be utterly as low.
Stephanie McMahon has finished glorious work repositioning a WWE brand in a business world, and examination a WWE’s programming alongside UFC’s suggests that a former has in some suggestive ways already upheld a latter. UFC programming has a significantly incomparable apportion of noticeably lower-rent ads than WWE—direct-response products like testosterone boosters, mostly, and a lot of a elder-bait services that publicize on other wire news networks. WWE ad breaks, on a other hand, include mostly of sell products—everything from candy bars to video games, and particularly lighter on a Natural Male Enhancement products—and movies, with small in a approach of approach response products. Hell, WWE recently even combined Kay Jewelers as a sponsor, with both blurb spots and integrated in-show advertising. The line-up of commercials—and a fact that WWE is concealment bigger rights fees than a UFC for their particular 2019 contracts—suggest that a required knowledge might not hold. The numbers advise this, too, as WWE’s approach sponsorship income quadrupled given 2010 and going adult 29 percent year over year in 2017. WWE’s final Saturday Night’s Main Event specials on NBC did have noticeably sub-broadcast network peculiarity ads, yet those finished in 2008, early in a stream TV-PG rebranding initiative. With WWE staring down a abounding new agreement and a prime-time mark on a vital network, that all feels like a prolonged time ago.
David Bixenspan is a freelance author from Brooklyn, NY who co-hosts a Between The Sheets podcast each Monday during BetweenTheSheetsPod.com and everywhere else that podcasts are available. You can follow him on Twitter during @davidbix and perspective his portfolio during Clippings.me/davidbix