In a big piece of news, WWE made a massive announcement today regarding WWE SmackDown and WWE Tough Enough. We heard rumors of Tough Enough returning this summer, which were confirmed earlier in the year, but we didn’t know exactly when it would return. We then found out USA picked it up again, and the rest was history. It was just a waiting game on when we’d see it. In addition to this move, USA Network announced that WWE SmackDown will also make it’s way to the USA Network block beginning in 2016.
This is the press release sent out by USA Network this morning:
WWE® SmackDown® Moves to USA Network in 1Q2016, Joining Monday Night Raw® and Reality Series WWE Tough Enough®
NEW YORK, NY and STAMFORD, CONN – April 7, 2015 – USA is expanding its commitment to the live action entertainment company WWE, bringing SmackDown to the network in the first quarter of 2016. Now the exclusive cable home to WWE marquee properties, USA airs the powerhouse Monday Night Raw live 52 weeks a year and the reality competition series WWE Tough Enough, which returns this summer in a reimagined format with live elements.
“WWE consistently delivers one of the largest and most socially engaged live audiences in entertainment and we’re excited to expand our long-standing relationship and be the true cable home for the WWE fan,” said USA Network President Chris McCumber.
“WWE is proud to have SmackDown join Raw as part of our expanded partnership with USA Network,” said WWE Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Vince McMahon. “The combination of the #1 cable network and two ratings juggernauts provides a destination for our viewers and an extraordinary platform for our partners.”
Earlier this year, USA announced the renewal of WWE Tough Enough, premiering Tuesday, June 23 at 8/7c. The reimagined series will feature an all-new format with live elements and more fan participation than ever before. In addition, WWE recently unveiled a new brand campaign “For The Hero In All of Us,” that engages consumers through #MyHeroIs, inviting fans to name their favorite WWE Superstars and share personal and inspirational stories of heroism.
Monday Night Raw on USA is the most-watched, regularly scheduled, year-round program on cable, airing a live three-hour block every Monday night, 52 weeks a year. Raw has been a cable mainstay for more than 20 years and is consistently a top ten show on television. Year-to-date Raw averages 1.95MM P18-49, 2.02MM P25-54 and 4.43MM total viewers P2+ and SmackDown averages 1.1MM P18-49, 1.22MM P25-54, and 2.86MM total viewers P2+. In 2014, Raw and SmackDown reached 55.9MM total viewers P2+.
With more than 800 original episodes, SmackDown is the second longest-running weekly episodic program in U.S. television history, only behind Monday Night Raw. Over the past 15 years, SmackDown has been broadcast from 170 different venues, in 148 cities, in seven different countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Iraq, Japan, Italy and Mexico.
This is a big addition to USA Network, having two WWE shows on the network that will only help their ratings. WWE SmackDown has been in NBCU’s SyFy Network for some time now and has been the No. 1 show there since it’s arrival. So it is surprising that NBC Universal would want to remove a show from SyFy when it’s still remains as the top show.
While SmackDown won’t be moving until the beginning of 2016, it still comes as a surprise that it would be moved from one NBU Network to another.
WWE SmackDown still will be on Thursdays, but WWE could always move it to another night. Meanwhile instead of following WWE RAW, WWE Tough Enough will have it’s own night, Tuesday. This will probably help WWE out if they have to do any live content with the contestants at certain arenas, as they’d already be taping SmackDown on the same night.
Tough Enough will also be different than before, which will allow us to see a very interesting new show. Many believe this will make the show far better than before, and the interactivity for it will be far better.
WWE SmackDown does get a big push here. By being on the same network as WWE RAW, WWE will have to treat is as well as their number one brand. Does this mean a brand split could happen? There is always a chance of it occurring, especially due to the fact that WWE has so many stars now that need more time to show what they can do.
WWE now has to treat their second show very well, which means fans could be in for something great. On top of this, USA Network is the number one cable network in all of American television. This could help draw higher ratings for SmackDown, which would only be a good thing for WWE and USA Network.
USA is truly going all out for WWE as having three WWE shows on their network proves that they recognize the power of the company and it’s fans. We shall see if the new move pays off next year.
[IMG credits: shedmedia.com, smacktalks.org, pwmania.com]