Last Friday night, Smackdown grabbed over 3.3 million viewers for their two hour broadcast. A huge spike on Christmas night and something that made big waves within the wrestling industry. It was WWE’s most watched show in awhile and on a holiday no less. As time went by, we got the breakdown: 4.1 million viewers in the first hour and about 2.5 million viewers for the second hour. Hmmm…something seemed off.
It seems now why we have even more details.
Dave Meltzer from The Wrestling Observer has reported the following:
5.04 million viewers tuned in for the opening, which was Keivn Owens challenging Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship inside a steel cage. This also coincided with the NFL on FOX game running over its’ time by eight minutes, with the post-show coverage. The actual game itself drew over 20 million viewers before Smackdown. More on this in a bit.
3.15 million viewers for the triple threat WWE Womens Tag Team Title match, not much to note here, except the clear drop in viewership.
2.70 million viewers for Daniel Bryan vs. Jey Uso, again note the drop in viewers hot off the NFL game on FOX from the first eight minutes of the show. Pretty clear what is happening. Now for the IC Championship main event…
2.45 million viewers for the Big E vs. Sami Zayn match, which gave us a title change and a feel good moment on Christmas night.
Now with all the numbers out, we can officially thank the NFL game for the HUGE boost in viewership. While I already suspected that and wrote as such a few days ago (twice), this should leave no doubt. I know other professional wrestling pundits wanted to credit the Smackdown quality and stacked card and such, but that just didn’t account for such a monstrous increase. Clearly, this was an outlier and had an explanation.
That would be the NFL.
Accepting the NFL gave Smackdown on FOX a big time lead in audience, I will say this: Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens knocked it out of the park. A part of me felt like that was the end of their story line. Another part of me wants to see it one more time at the Royal Rumble. Huge kudos to them for having such a big audience tune in and absolutely crush it inside that steel cage. Seriously, go out of your way to check it out on Youtube if you haven’t already.
On the downside, yeah. Look at the viewers all leave in droves as football ended, and the ‘wrazzlin show’ aired. From over 5 million viewers to half of that two hours later, 2.45 million to watch Big E win the IC Title. Disappointing but understood. One last time: Those five million viewers weren’t there for Smackdown. They already had FOX on due to the NFL game, with 20 million viewers watching.
Hopefully, those viewers return for tonight’s edition of the blue brand, as the program really has been on fire since August (Reigns). Those numbers don’t bode well though. I think we all know a semi-normal number is happening, and that sucks. WWE is on FOX specifically for that sports tie-in. Make more use of that network relationship and keep on delivering a solid product. We’re almost at the Royal Rumble and the road to WrestleMania…
By Justin Watry (Twitter: @JustinWatry)