It was announced by WWE on Wednesday morning that Smackdown will become a live broadcast every Tuesday night on USA Network starting on July 19 at 8pmET. The move was first announced in an article by Variety this morning.
Here’s the report from WWE.com that also notes that the brand extension is returning with a Superstar draft coming soon.
A SmackDown shakeup is about to completely reshape all of WWE. Beginning July 19, the second longest-running weekly episodic program in television history, SmackDown, will move from Thursday to Tuesday nights and air LIVE each and every week — for the first time ever — at 8/7 C on USA Network, the exclusive cable home to WWE’s marquee properties.
This bold move will have major ramifications for all of WWE and exemplify the New Era, as both Raw and SmackDown will each feature their own unique rosters and rivalries following an imminent Superstar draft.
“WWE’s flagship programs will both leverage the incredible depth of our talent roster, distinct storylines and the unpredictable nature of live TV,” WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon said. “This move will undoubtedly build more excitement and deepen engagement with our fans around the world.”
With so many explosive competitors emerging from WWE NXT, and top Superstars like John Cena and Seth Rollins returning from injury, WWE’s star-powered roster has never been stronger. Its historic division and the monumental revelation of SmackDown’s shift to a live format each week reflect the excitement and unpredictability of WWE’s New Era.
What awaits SmackDown on its new night, starting this July? Which live shows will claim your favorite Superstars? What will this all mean for the future of sports-entertainment? Stay tuned as WWE prepares to get shaken up like never before.
There’s obviously going to be more news about this story in the days and weeks to come.
Here’s a video of Stephanie and Shane McMahon arguing about who should run Smackdown even though the show was completely ignored during the “who controls Raw” storylines.
— Triple H (@TripleH) May 25, 2016
Here’s a WWE press release on the story.
NEW YORK and STAMFORD, CONN – May 25, 2016 — USA Network, the exclusive cable home to WWE’s marquee properties, announced that its weekly SMACKDOWN show will air live – for the first time ever – and move to Tuesdays every week beginning July 19 from 8-10PM ET/PT. With the SMACKDOWN move, USA Network will now offer five hours of live WWE programming a week, including the weekly three-hour live WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW (airing Mondays from 8-11PM ET/PT), with each show featuring a distinct cast, unique storylines and a dedicated writing team.
In 2016 to date, MONDAY NIGHT RAW is averaging 4.011MM total viewers, 1.873MM P25-54 and 1.846MM P18-49 L7, and SMACKDOWN in its current time slot is averaging 2.674MM P2+, 1.136MM P25-54, and 1.058MM P18-49+ L7, making USA the #1 cable entertainment network across the key demos on Monday and Thursday nights. In 2015, the two programs combined reached over 50MM viewers. Both shows will now air live 52 weeks a year.
“The fan base for our WWE shows is one of the most passionate and engaged audiences in all of entertainment,” said Chris McCumber, President, Entertainment Networks, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “There is a huge appetite among our viewers for live programming, and the ability to move SMACKDOWN to a live format brings a new level of excitement and helps truly eventize this every week.”
“WWE’s flagship programs will both leverage the incredible depth of our talent roster, distinct storylines and the unpredictable nature of live TV,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. “This move will undoubtedly build more excitement and deepen engagement with our fans around the world.”
With 874 original episodes, SMACKDOWN is the second longest-running weekly episodic program in U.S. television history, only behind MONDAY NIGHT RAW at 1,200 episodes.
Beginning July 19, immediately following SMACKDOWN, USA Network will premiere the new original drama SHOOTER, starring Ryan Phillippe (“Secrets and Lies”), at 10/9c. SHOOTER is based on the best-selling Bob Lee Swagger novel by Stephen Hunter, Point of Impact, and the 2007 Paramount film starring Mark Wahlberg. The series follows the courageous journey of Swagger, a highly-decorated ex-marine sniper who is coaxed back into action after he learns about a plot to kill the President. Mark Wahlberg (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Entourage”) of Closest to the Hole Productions serves as executive producer along with Stephen Levinson (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Ballers”) of Leverage Entertainment; Lorenzo di Bonaventura (“Transformers,” “The Real O’Neals”) and John Hlavin (“The Shield”). The series is a co-production between Paramount Television and Universal Cable Productions.
This is huge news. More thoughts and analysis coming later today on this breaking story.