In the midst of the usual industry talk about live programming being the only way television networks can combat DVRs and cord-cutters, the Variety article also answers a couple of fan questions (and probably a wish list item) when it reveals the move is to accomodate a growing roster and will include a return of the brand split:
“The debut of a live SmackDown comes as two of the WWE’s biggest attractions, John Cena and Seth Rollins, are returning to competition from injuries. And the company is expected to create strong points of differentiation between SmackDown and USA’s other live program, Monday Night Raw, according to the WWE. A draft will be held before the SmackDown launch date to determine which wrestlers on the company’s talent roster will be assigned to which program. Each show is expected to feature separate cast, plots and writing teams.”
There is a quote from Vince McMahon:
“WWE’s flagship programs will both leverage the incredible depth of our talent roster, distinct storylines and the unpredictable nature of live TV. This move will undoubtedly build more excitement and deepen engagement with our fans around the world.”
But it’s the usual soundbite and not answers to questions the news will raise for fans like if this means a return to two World titles, if one show will feature women exclusively, etc.
Start speculating on those questions, Cagesiders.
The announcement does add some strength to WWE’s frequent ratings argument – that numbers are down for everyone and there is still a premium on their content, even if viewership numbers will never reach the heights of the late 90s ever again.
Will the move pay off for USA’s parent company, NBC Universal, and WWE? Time will tell.
But it’s certainly an exciting time to be a wrestling fan.
Well it’s about time! Smackdown has always been the red-headed stepchild of WWE. It’s a WWE product but most times without the top guys. Also, with the results being available two days in advance, it’s always felt less than RAW. No more though as starting on Tuesday, July 19th, Smackdown will be live each and every week. Also announced is RAW and Smackdown will have distinctly different rosters.
It’s been rumored since the return of Shane McMahon that a brand split was coming but now it’s confirmed. I’m going to assume it’ll eventually end up Shane vs. Stephanie. You wonder what affect this will have on NXT. More new Superstars will be needed, especially top ones. Does this also mean we’ll see the split of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship again? So many questions, should be a fun couple months of programming leading up to July 19th!