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SmackDown’s TV numbers rise for empty arena show

People are looking for diversions given the current unpredictable state of the world. With the lack of competition from live sports, WWE is hoping to be one of those diversions for dedicated and casual fans.

The first show of the social distancing era, Fri., Mar. 13’s SmackDown, was our first chance to see how the television numbers for sports entertainment will look in a world dealing with a pandemic. In addition to the lack of live alternatives (other than news), the blue brand had a novelty factor going for it. This was the first episode in the show’s history filmed without a live audience.

Curiosity about how that would work, along with appearances by big names like John Cena & Jeff Hardy, seems to have driven SmackDown’s viewership and ratings higher than they were on Mar. 6. They’re still pretty much in line with what the show’s been doing all year, though.

Here are last night’s network numbers:

Showbuzz Daily

And here’s a look at the performance of every Fox Friday SmackDown episode (all data via Showbuzz Daily):

Cable numbers aren’t out yet, but I’d guess the news networks continued to do well. President Trump did declare a national emergency due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, just hours before showtime.

WWE and Fox would have liked to have seen things back to where they were for Cena’s last appearance, but given all the factors in play, they’re probably pleased with SmackDown’s stability. General uncertainty is likely to persist in for at least a couple more weeks. We’ll see the blue show’s numbers stay stable on Mar. 21.

For complete results and the live blog for SmackDown this week click here. To read a complete recap & review of all the night’s events click here. For a full playlist of the show click here.

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