You know the drill.
Fox paid billions of dollars for the broadcast rights to SmackDown, WWE’s two hour live show which currently airs on Tuesday nights. They’ll be moving it to Fridays on Oct. 4, and banking that placement on a broadcast network and heavy promotion on other Fox Sports properties like Major League Baseball and the National Football League will not only offset the move to “dead TV night”, but rejuvenate the blue brand’s numbers.
Those numbers have been in “they are what they are” territory for a while. They’re usually at the top of the rankings for cable originals, but they’re also hovering around 2 million viewers and a .7 rating when in January of 2018 they were hovering around 2.5 million and a .8.
It’s led to talk the network is experiencing buyer’s remorse, and a baseless rumor they may even already have a back-up plan to move SmackDown to their cable outlet FS1 if the show is a ratings flop. That’s supposedly part of what’s behind moves like bringing in Eric Bischoff as Executive Director.
If there’s any truth to the whispers of Fox Sports getting cold feet, their Senior Vice-President of Sales didn’t give any indication in his recent interview with The Big Lead. But he also didn’t say that WWE doesn’t need some help getting SmackDown to where the network needs it to be.
Asked if he’s concerned with the show’s ratings, Evans responded:
“We feel how we’re going to present and how we’re going to promote the WWE is going to inject it with such a new life. It’s going to be a home run for us.”
If you’ve ever dealt with corporate sales people, you know that for whatever else you can say about them, they don’t climb the ranks if they’re not good at putting forward pro-company spin. So it’s not shocking that Evans, who’s team is already selling ad time on SmackDown, is bullish on the show’s prospects.
It is noteworthy that his answer doesn’t put over how much faith they have in WWE to improve the show on their own.
October will be a very interesting month.