In a major programming move, Syfy has acquired the rights to WWE’s “Friday Night SmackDown,” a pickup that will send the network’s familiar Friday dramas to a new night.
A long-term mainstay on UPN and then the early days of The CW, “Friday Night SmackDown has most recently been airing on My Network TV. Although it was a costly proposition for My Network TV, “SmackDown” has averaged more than 3.4 million viewers per week and ranks as Friday’s most watched TV program among male viewers under the age of 55.
“SmackDown” will premiere on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. and will clearly put the emphasis on the “Imagine Greater” part of Syfy, rather than that pesky “sci fi” thing the network used to be associated with. Then again, this is far from Syfy’s first association with the WWE, as the network is already home to the reality series “NXT.”
“Syfy is a terrific partner and we look forward to bringing our proven ratings winner and 10-year television institution, ‘Friday Night SmackDown, ‘to the network,” states WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. “With this move, WWE is thrilled to be expanding its long-standing relationship with the NBC Universal family.”
The biggest impact of the deal on most current Syfy viewers may be the lack of available Friday real estate for existing originals. As a result, the original dramas that have normally aired on Fridays — think “Caprica,” “Stargate Universe,” “Sanctuary” and more — will shift to the far more competitive terrain of Tuesday nights.
“WWE is the ultimate in imagination-based sports entertainment. The fantastical thrills of Friday Night SmackDown provide an ideal addition to the Syfy slate, as it targets the younger male and female demographics, which are the fastest growing categories for WWE,” states Syfy President Dave Howe, explaining how “SmackDown” fits in with the Syfy brand. “With Tuesday night, a proven winner for our original drama series including ‘Warehouse 13,’ there is bigger opportunity for series such as ‘Stargate Universe,’ ‘Sanctuary’ and ‘Caprica’ to thrive on a night with a significantly larger number of viewers available to watch live.”