WWE, the world’s largest pro wrestling company, struck a deal to move its weekly two-hour “Smackdown” program from SyFy to the USA Netowork. The move is scheduled for “the first quarter of 2016,” WWE announced on Tuesday.
When it does, that will mean, aside from the E! Network show “Total Divas,” a “reality” show that follows the lives of several female WWE wrestlers, USA will be the only channel on network television airing WWE programming. USA already airs WWE’s weekly three-hour “Raw” program, and on June 23, the network will premier the sixth season of “WWE Tough Enough,” a reality competition show to find the next WWE superstar.
USA Network has good reason to want the extra programming. WWE says “Raw” has proven to be “the most-watched, regularly scheduled, year-round program on cable.” The WWE audience is also known to be one of the most socially engaged audiences, as well. For example, during five hours of WrestleMania programming on March 29, viewers tweeted so much and so often that 110 WWE topics trended on Twitter, according to Mashable.
“WWE consistently delivers one of the largest and most socially engaged live audiences in entertainment and we’re excited to expand our long-standing relationship and be the true cable home for the WWE fan,” USA Network President Chris McCumber said in a press statement.
“Smackdown” debuted on UPN in 1999, before moving to the CW in 2006 following UPN’s merger with the WB. It then aired did a two-year stint on MyNetworkTV before moving to SyFy, where it’s aired since 2010.
Meanwhile, WWE plans to continue expanding its online WWE Network, which operates like Netflix with viewers paying a monthly fee to access its programs, including WWE pay-per-views and the popular NXT developmental shows. As of March 30, the network boasted 1.3 million subscriptions worldwide, according to a WWE press release.