World Wrestling Entertainment announced that MyNetworkTV will become the broadcast home of WWE SmackDown beginning this fall.
As a result of the agreement, SmackDown will return to many of its former UPN affiliates, which make up an important portion of MNT. Those former UPN affiliates are where the show's ratings and popularity grew.
“The momentum at MyNetworkTV continues with this major acquisition. We have demonstrated tremendous growth, and this partnership with WWE, the premier sports-entertainment franchise in the world, is a perfect fit for our viewers, advertisers and affiliates,” MyNetworkTV president Greg Meidel said in a statement.
SmackDown had been a staple on The CW and, previously, UPN, since 1999. The negotiating window between The CW and WWE expired Jan. 31, leading to WWE shopping SmackDown to other networks.
WWE programming is a consistent ratings-getter, with its flagship cable show, WWE Monday Night Raw, at the top of the cable ratings charts nearly every week for USA Network.
MyNetworkTV has grown in the ratings as it has debuted more original programming, such as John Langley's Jail and Celebrity Expose. Despite the growth, the network has lagged behind its competitors during primetime.
By acquiring Smackdown, which is a ratings juggernaut in the 18-49 demo that MyNetworkTV is trying to reach, and launching more original programming, such as the upcoming Flavor Flav comedy Under One Roof, the network could become a serious challenger to the CW.
WWE chairman Vince McMahon alluded to the ratings his programs bring when making the announcement. “We have an unmatched record of delivering ratings success to each and every network partner we’ve worked with in our long and storied history,” McMahon said. “We fully intend to bring that same level of success to MyNetworkTV.”
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