We all know by now that WWE is planning to move their WWE SmackDown show to USA Network starting this January. It is a big move for SmackDown, which finally finds itself on equal footing with WWE RAW. Of course, most of us feel WWE will never treat it as an equal. However, that is another story for another time and place. The move to USA Network is a big deal for all involved, or at least it was.
NBC Universal wanted USA to stay as the top network in all of cable. It has been there for the better part of a decade, so naturally the company wanted to keep itself at the top. They felt that by moving SmackDown, it would shore up Thursday numbers for them — that would allow the company to stay at a top position. Keep in mind, however, that at the time of this decision, WWE RAW was averaging a 3.0 and SmackDown was pretty good, at a 2.2 average.
The move would help the SmackDown viewership in most eyes. However, recent ratings struggles have put SmackDown in a bad position, as RAW cannot even keep its audience. That said, how could SmackDown manage to do well? For the last number of years, WWE has treated SmackDown as a B show, with random matches and recaps from RAW. It was not worth seeing it, and missing the show never mattered, as RAW would recap you on anything you didn’t see from SmackDown that mattered.
WWE does have a plan to avoid some of the issues however. According to the Wrestling Observer, WWE is planning to make some significant changes to the show that the company hopes will help with ratings. One thing mentioned was a change at the commentary table. However, it is unknown what kind of change would happen, as the commentary team has not been the center of a lot of controversy there. Another thing mentioned was the overall look of the show.
Whether that means they will treat the show different cinematically is unknown. However, we should not expect them to go Lucha Underground with the show. Most people think that they might just give the show a new set, with potentially a different logo and color. For most, none of these ideas will help the show overall. In fact, almost every WWE fan believes that the best thing WWE can do for both WWE RAW and SmackDown is a brand split. It is almost a universal request across all fanboards and feeds. Social media asks for it on a regular basis, as well.
How could it help, however?
The reason for the brand split early on was the acquisition of both WCW and ECW rosters. WWE felt that they had so much talent that they needed to split them up, where they would have two shows with two different sets of rosters. Both shows would have major stars and up and comers. Meanwhile, they would also have two different creative teams and their own championships after a while.
Eventually, WWE settled on having a yearly draft that would allow for some to switch from one show to the other. Eventually, WWE added the ECW brand into the mix, whom also had some of its stars included. Then SmackDown live events started to get lower numbers, and WWE added the RAW Supershow that would include SmackDown stars. Only a soft split was done then, and eventually WWE ended the split all together. Fans have hated it, and SmackDown television numbers have been in decline since.
All of this being said, it is thought WWE will split the rosters once more. However, it may not happen until at least after WrestleMania 32. Until then, WWE is planning to add big angles to their storylines on SmackDown in hopes that people will be enticed enough to tune in weekly.
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