WWE SmackDown: 5 Ways to Increase Ratings
WWE Raw has long been the older, more dominant brother. Take November of last year for example. WWE Raw averaged a 2.78 rating (h/t Wrestling Observer, via WrestleZone.com) while WWE SmackDown earned a 1.88 rating during that same period. This is a pattern that has largely stayed the same.
WWE isn't without options to even things out.
Some changes suggested here are minor and would require little effort. Others require new or altered deals with TV networks but would be worth the headaches in the end.
Don’t Have It on Friday
Friday, at least in Texas, is high school football night. It's date night. It's a night to blow off steam from a week of work and/or school.
Should Monday Night Football move to Fridays, expect ratings to suffer. The Oscars wouldn't move their ceremony to Friday.
Why not return WWE SmackDown to Thursdays, the way it was in 1999?
Don't make us choose between going out and wrestling, between starting the weekend off right or watching WWE's latest developments. Find another day in the week to seek our viewership.
Title defenses shouldn't happen every night, but adding more of them to WWE SmackDown will attract more attention to the show.
Non-title matches have little at stake. Having the Intercontinental champ, the U.S. title holder, the Tag Team champions and occasionally the World champs defend their belts can only add excitement. Overdoing it devalues pay-per-views, but a balance can be found.
Much of WWE Raw's three hours are dedicated to building feuds, comedy segments and trash talking. WWE SmackDown has had a reputation for being the more wrestling-heavy show of the two.
Roll with that. Keep up that tradition with added title defenses.
If fans know their favorite star has a chance to win a championship, they will be more likely to tune in. Fans who skip out on WWE SmackDown may regret not seeing a new champion being crowned and the great match that led to that victory.
Bring in More Legends
It was a blissful, nostalgic experience. It was fun.
WWE can't expect to bring in names of that stature regularly, but there are plenty of lesser-known names out there to drag out for WWE SmackDown. Put some of them in segments. Put others in matches.
Having viewers not know who will show up to the show each time out adds intrigue. Give Finlay a match. Let fans hear Goldust's theme again.
Make watching SmackDown a can't-miss experience. Have fans say the next day, "I can't believe I missed seeing him come back; that would have been awesome."
There is no incentive to tune into WWE SmackDown if so many of its narratives will be continued or resolved on Monday night.
Jack Swagger wants a new America. The Shield attacks people. Those things happen two times a week, so why see the second?
WWE Raw shows tons of recaps anyway, so it's easy to catch up.
Some major feuds must of course cross over to both shows, but Kofi Kingston's feud with the next challenger for his title could just be something fans can see on the "B" show. No, midcarders like Kofi aren't going to sell tickets by themselves, but a feeling of exclusivity about SmackDown would add to its prestige.
A return to a brand split isn't wise, but turning the two shows into a Venn diagram where some elements merge and some do not would make SmackDown more appealing on its own.
Show It Live
When Alberto Del Rio beat Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship in January, WWE.com leaked the info. Perhaps it wanted to get ahead of all the wrestling websites and spoiler-happy fans in spilling the beans.
Whatever the company's motivation, it sucked the excitement out of the moment.
Taping the show on Tuesday and showing it on Friday certainly has some advantages in terms of editing, but in an age where information is so free flowing, WWE SmackDown has to be shown live.
Will some fans tune in after they know the results? Sure, but the element of surprise is powerful and going live returns that to the mix.
It adds a special buzz about it as well. Knowing the world is watching an event the same time as you is a cool feeling, one that SmackDown needs to utilize.