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WWE Brand Split To Return, Smackdown Going Live

Andy Baker, via Flickr.

WWE

WWE Brand Split To Return, Smackdown Going Live

On Wednesday, the WWE made a couple of huge announcements in regards to WWE Television, with Smackdown making it’s official move to USA Network in July, the show will now air live, making it the second show of WWE TV that will broadcast live, behind their flagship show Monday Night Raw.

Starting July 19th, Smackdown will not only start airing live, but, along with the move, comes the return of the WWE Brand Extension, which had not been seen by the WWE Universe since August of 2011. The brand split had originally came to be due to the influx of talent that had been absorbed once WCW was bought out by Vince McMahon, and gave stars who would normally be shut out from the spotlight an opportunity to shine.

The WWE had sent out this press release on Wednesday to make the announcement public:

SMACKDOWN GOING LIVE ON USA NETWORK BEGINNING TUESDAY, JULY 19

SMACKDOWN to Feature Distinct Roster and Storylines

 

NEW YORK and STAMFORD, CONN – May 25, 2016 — USA Network, the exclusive cable home to WWE’s marquee properties, announced that its weekly SMACKDOWN show will air live – for the first time ever – and move to Tuesdays every week beginning July 19 from 8-10PM ET/PT. With the SMACKDOWN move, USA Network will now offer five hours of live WWE programming a week, including the weekly three-hour live WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW (airing Mondays from 8-11PM ET/PT), with each show featuring a distinct cast, unique storylines and a dedicated writing team.

In 2016 to date, MONDAY NIGHT RAW is averaging 4.011MM total viewers, 1.873MM P25-54 and 1.846MM P18-49 L7, and SMACKDOWN in its current time slot is averaging 2.674MM P2+, 1.136MM P25-54, and 1.058MM P18-49+ L7, making USA the #1 cable entertainment network across the key demos on Monday and Thursday nights. In 2015, the two programs combined reached over 50MM viewers. Both shows will now air live 52 weeks a year.

“The fan base for our WWE shows is one of the most passionate and engaged audiences in all of entertainment,” said Chris McCumber, President, Entertainment Networks, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “There is a huge appetite among our viewers for live programming, and the ability to move SMACKDOWN to a live format brings a new level of excitement and helps truly eventize this every week.”

“WWE’s flagship programs will both leverage the incredible depth of our talent roster, distinct storylines and the unpredictable nature of live TV,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. “This move will undoubtedly build more excitement and deepen engagement with our fans around the world.”

After the announcement, fans were abuzz, asking such questions like would there be two main championships again, would the recently retired Divas Championship return for both shows to have Women’s titles, would the tag belts be split again, so on an so forth; with the brand split returning, would it also elevate their minor league promotion NXT into it’s own brand to compete with the other two main shows, another question fans on social media have been asking in the last few days since the announcement went public, all questions the WWE will be answering in the coming months.

Stay with us, as we will deliver the news on this story as it progresses.

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Photo by Andy Baker, via Flickr.

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