Tragedy struck the world of pro wrestling Friday when WWE Smackdown was moved from Fox to FS1 to make way for the World Series of baseball, causing Smackdown to lose out on millions of viewers. For months, Smackdown has been struggling to stay about 2 million in overall average viewership, taking steps like introducing the WWE Thunderdome, turning Roman Reigns heel, and drafting The Ratings King of Friday Nights, Baron Corbin, to the show. And it looks like all of that was set to pay off Friday Night when the network switch screwed Smackdown over worse than Bret Hart screwed Bret Hart in Montreal.
According to Showbuzz Daily's Network Scorecard, over 7.2 million people on average tuned in to Fox on Friday Night expecting to see an episode of Friday Night Smackdown, only to find that Fox was airing stupid baseball instead. That's right, months of hard work from WWE building interest in Smackdown finally led to three and a half times the normal weekly audience tuning in to check out the show, and it wasn't even on the air. That's really unfortunate and a huge bummer for WWE, who deserved that ratings boost. It's also a bummer for viewers who missed out on comedy gold like the Law and Otis segment.
Smackdown aired on FS1 instead, and viewership is likely to be down. Not only do network switches usually cause a big drop in viewership, and not only is FS1 in far fewer homes than Fox, but we already know that WWE's regular viewers tuned into Fox due to the network ratings. We won't know how badly Smackdown was affected until the cable ratings come out. All we can do at this time is hope that those 7 million viewers tune in again next week when Smackdown is back on the air in its normal slot.