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On Friday night, Fox aired an hour-long special, WWE SmackDown’s Greatest Hits, serving as something of an introduction to the arrival of SmackDown as a weekly fixture. Hosted by The Miz and Charlotte, of all people, it was, as the name would suggest, a collection of some of the most famous moments in the show’s 20 year history, featuring many of the legendary names who have been featured in Fox’s promotion of SmackDown’s debut. That’s not exactly an accurate preview of what the show will be week to week, but it doesn’t seem like that was the point.
Still, with WWE not hyping the show up much and there not being much of a compelling reason to watch it, it didn’t exactly light the world on fire in the Nielsen ratings. According to TV By The Numbers, WWE SmackDown’s Greatest Hits did a 0.4% rating in the key 18-49 demographic, averaging 1,390,000 viewers across the hour in all demos. In the demo, that was good enough for a tie with a rerun of NBC’s Bluff City Law behind the first-place finishes of the premieres of CBS’s Hawaii Five-O and ABC’s American Housewife, which each picked up a 0.7% rating in the demo.
Of course, this doesn’t exactly tell us much. Greatest Hits wasn’t the show being hyped up. If it had done surprisingly well, that could have given us something to go off of as far as predicting how SmackDown Live proper will do. (As in it would have suggested a non-cable audience hungry for wrestling content on a major network.) But since it did a not very good number (albeit respectable relative to competition in the key demo, which is where the networks and sponsors focus these days), there’s not much to extrapolate. This show was not a priority, so it doing a number that a non-priority show would do is just kind of par for the course. The real test comes this Friday night and in the next few weeks after that, when we’ll learn what moving to a major network can do for WWE in 2019…even if it includes the trade-off of moving to Friday nights.
David Bixenspan is a freelance writer from Brooklyn, N.Y. He writes the Babyface v. Heel subscription blog/newsletter and co-hosts the Between The Sheets podcast every Monday at BetweenTheSheetsPod.com/everywhere else that podcasts are available. You can follow him on Twitter at @davidbix and view his portfolio at Clippings.me/davidbix.
I am a freelance writer and reporter from Brooklyn, NY with a knack for investigative and historical coverage of combat sports, having broken stories about the Hulk Hoga…