While you don’t want to read too much into a third-hand report of an offhand remark, this is the internet, and that’s kind of what we do.
But in all seriousness, someone like Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier knows that anything he says during a session at the Television Critics Association press tour is going to be analyzed, so it’s not like we’re nitpicking a quote from a cocktail party.
And what he said, especially in light of WWE’s ratings struggles of late, is interesting. While covering Collier’s speech for his report at Gamespot, Chris Hayner tweeted:
The CEO did confirm the show would be live, and largely offered praise for Fox’s new partners at WWE, “It’s live, and what’s remarkable [is] these are people that know their audience. They’re great storytellers and I think it fits beautifully with what we’re doing.”
He also said that other WWE programming is coming to Fox’s cable sports networks, which is in line with rumors that NXT could land on FS1 at some point:
“The Fox sports networks, FS1, and others, will have some other wrestling--not live Smackdown, not Raw, but other ties to the WWE world.”
That’s good news, right? More exposure for any of the brand’s “below” the main roster should help the men and women who work those shows, and I doubt WWE will want to tinker with the formula if it’s what got Fox interested in running them anyway.
Back to the “short term” bit, though. Moving to Fridays will already require WWE to change up their traveling schedule (currently, the Raw crew runs house shows from Friday - Sunday, tapes Monday and then has three days off while the SmackDown team does non-televised live events Saturday - Monday, films on Tuesday and gets a break). Triple H has already spoken on what an undertaking that change is; now imagine having to execute another one on the fly because Fox wants to move their night.
And if WWE doesn’t deliver the numbers Fox wants, it sounds like they could opt to go back to their Tim Allen-anchored comedy block. Broadcast networks move shows around fairly regularly - something WWE isn’t accustomed to. While SmackDown has switched nights in its history, it’s almost always been taped on Tuesdays (the show was pre-taped and aired on several days delay throughout its existence before moving to USA in 2016).
The flip side of that is, if SmackDown overperforms expectations on Fridays - which doesn’t seem likely right now, but who knows what the future holds, or what Fox’s specific expectations are for their new billion dollar investment - they could move to a more important night of the week for advertisers. It presents the same logistical problems for WWE, but is better for everyone’s bottom line in the long run.
The fun starts when SmackDown starts airing on Fox Fridays in October of this year... for a while, anyway.