Feature: Steve Anderson on Smackdown’s New Home


The current home page poll on The WZ asks the following question:

â<80><9c>Will you watch SD when it moves to MyNetwork TV next week?â<80>

The options for answers are:

Yes, I will

I don’t have MyNetwork TV

No, I don’t watch Smackdown now

That second choice made me think. According to Wikipedia, MyNetwork TV launched in August of 2006 with 167 affiliates that reached 106 million households, accounting for 96% of the United States. Thatâ<80><99>s fast for a new network, but it was born out of the CW being created out of the WB and UPN network mergers.

MyNetwork TV has the coverage, but what about the ratings? Itâ<80><99>s gone through various format changes, from telenovelas to reality programs and IFL programming. The ratings noly register. It is the lowest-rated of the six major US English-language commercial broadcast networks, according to Wiki.

Raw has moved from USA to TNN/Spike back to USA again without much ratings damage. Smackdown enjoyed a nine-year run at UPN/CW before moving over to the fledgling station.

Could this be Smackdownâ<80><99>s last network stand?

Even those markets that have MyNetwork TV likely lack awareness, leading to the low ratings. To me, the name of the network is clunky. People are used to two to three-letter acronyms. Smackdownâ<80><99>s debut this coming Friday is a loaded show. WWE is putting on the best dog-and-pony show they can to get people to jump from one network to another, a daunting task to say the least.

I donâ<80><99>t doubt Smackdownâ<80><99>s ability to put on a good show or be a ratings draw for MyNetwork TV. I just question that networkâ<80><99>s ability to stay afloat. Getting Smackdown was the best move they could make. Flava Flavâ<80><99>s â<80><9c>Under One Roofâ<80> does not conjure up images of a flagship program. That job has now become Smackdownâ<80><99>s. In the midst of sitcoms, reality programming, and movies, the WWE Friday night program stands out.

It will be enough for WWE. But will it be enough to keep MyNetwork TV afloat? The two-year old network has experienced its share of bumps, including format and leadership changes. Their overall ratings noly register. Smackdown will help, but how much?

In addition, wrestling is not exactly experiencing a â<80><9c>Rock and Wrestlingâ<80> or â<80><9c>Attitudeâ<80> era right now. Yes, Raw is in the upper echelon of cable programs part and Smackdownâ<80><99>s CW ratings were impressive. However, mainstream acclaim akin to the mid-eighties and the mid/late-nineties currently elude both programs. A pivotal move to a station struggling with awareness and ratings is risky.

It could pay off. MyNetwork TV could effectively become WWE TV. They may add more WWE programming. WWE-produced sitcoms and dramas could become a part of MyNetworkâ<80><99>s line-up.

Okay, Iâ<80><99>m getting a ahead of myself. Pondering that makes me think that Flava Flavâ<80><99>s show isnâ<80><99>t so bad after all.

Or it could all go bad. Very bad. In spite of WWEâ<80><99>s best efforts and decent ratings, MyNetwork TV could fold. Then what? Their network options are limited. The move to PG-style programming will help, but I donâ<80><99>t see CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox becoming Smackdownâ<80><99>s new home. The CW waved bye-bye to them, despite the ratings draw they had become.

Smackdown would likely find a cable home in the NBC/Universal family if MyNetwork TV ceases. But it wonâ<80><99>t be the same. Who thought that Smackdown would make it nearly ten years? The show has lasted as long as the Dumont Network in its entirety and that was the last national network to show pro wrestling on a consistent basis in prime time.

Hereâ<80><99>s to a new era of Smackdown. A risky era, but a new era nonetheless. If you want Smackdown to stick around on a television network station, I suggest you go to the poll and check that first circle. WWE and MyNetwork TV will thank you.

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