Syfy hopes to pin down young wrestling
fans on Friday nights with the fall launch of World
Wrestling Entertainment’s popular Friday Night
SmackDown, newly acquired by the NBC Universal
Syfy will air the two-hour, weekly series — which migrates
from broadcast network MyNetworkTV — beginning
Oct. 1, during the 8 to 10 p.m. slot on Fridays that
had been home to Syfy’s original series.
To make room for SmackDown, Syfy will move original
franchises such as Caprica and Sanctuary, which had
aired on “Syfy Friday,” to Tuesday nights. Th ey replace
wrestling reality series WWE NXT, which will leave the
network’s schedule in October.
WWE NXT — formerly ECW — has averaged 1.4 million
viewers since launching last month. Friday Night
SmackDown averages more than 3.4 million viewers
a week on MyNetworkTV, making it the second most
popular WWE franchise behind USA Network’s WWE
Monday Night Raw.
“I think this is a fantastic opportunity to upgrade
what we already have and bring in a bigger WWE franchise
— SmackDown being the second biggest after
Raw,” Syfy president Dave Howe said. “SmackDown
attracts a bigger, more family oriented audience, so it’s
more helpful in terms of cross-promotion with the rest
of the schedule.”
ORIGINALS MOVE TO TUESDAY
Howe said Tuesdays will provide greater exposure for
those originals than Fridays, typically a slower night
in terms of television viewing. Freshman original series
Warehouse 13, for example, averaged a networkhigh
3.8 million total viewers last summer on Tuesday
Howe hasn’t totally ruled out the possibility of
launching a scripted series in the Friday 10 p.m. time
“We still have Fridays at 10, so what we’re aiming to do
is use SmackDown as a springboard to launch new shows
on Friday, or put in repeats of our scripted shows so that
we can continue to grow that SmackDown audience across
our schedule,” he said.
WWE officials are said to be “currently in negotiations”
with other distributors regarding future carriage
of WWE NXT.
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.