Overnight viewership figures for Friday Night SmackDown

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/10/05/overnight-viewership-figures-for-friday-night-smackdown/

Photo courtesy: WWE

The overnight figures for the debut episode of Friday Night SmackDown on Fox are in, with the show averaging just under four-million viewers for the two-hour premiere.

The show averaged 3,920,000 viewers from 8-9 pm eastern with a minimal drop to 3,818,000 viewers from 9-10 pm on Fox. The two-hour average was 3,869,000 viewers.

Among adults 18-49, the show won the night with a 1.4 rating in the first hour and 1.3 in the second along with an 8 share in the demographic. With adults 25-54, they did a 1.6 for both hours, which was also tops among network programming.

With total viewers, Fox was second on the night with CBS winning the night with their block featuring Hawaii Five-) (6,393,000), Magnum P.I. (6,024,000), and Blue Bloods (7,387,000). NBC’s airing of The Blacklist averaged 3,965,000 and edged out Friday Night SmackDown.

Friday Night SmackDown did not air live across the country and aired on delay on the West Coast, so the final number will reflect the West Coast and parts of the country that didn’t receive it live. Viewers on the west coast also had the option of watching the show live on Fox.com, the Fox Now app, and the Fox Sports app.

For Smackdown these are good numbers. But if you look at this time last year on Fox, the 2018 Fox programs did much better. Friday night viewership for Fox has been quite variable over the past year, with reruns generally doing poorly but first run programs doing well. So maybe Fox will be happy if Smackdown delivers a more consistent viewership, even if the peaks for Smackdown are less than the peaks for prior first-run programs.

Absolute domination

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It’ll be interesting to see what the viewership is in a month’s time. Not the age demographics though… still have no idea how they can get an accurate reading on that. Also, I’m sure AEW hardcores who bragged about their first ever show beating NXT in the ratings (mainly down to curiosity) are now back to talking about how it’s not about ratings.

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AEW was owned last night. The really are minor leagues. Not going to be WCW level. More ECW level

It was a decent show and it feels like months and years of planning from WWE came together for this Fox debut. It looked legit, big time and their association with so many different sources outside of the company was just incredible. AEW had a great night on Wednesday and it looked fantastic on a grand scale, but last night WWE really showed how big they can play in this space. Great times all round.

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Are you crazy? Absolute domination?

They did less than 4 million on FOX with the amount of main stream press it got? That’s kinda really bad. They had their biggest main stream star ever announced and Brock Lesner booked in a title match. Not sure what other tricks they can pull to pop a rating.

UFC debuted to like 5.7 back in 2011 and did several shows in the 4 million + range. On what would have to be expected the most likely night to do a massive number WWE didn’t crack 4mil. Huge letdown. This number isn’t as likely to grow as it is shrink. I’ll be interested if they do a number bigger than this over the next 52 weeks much less 5 years.

Stop comparing it to AEW and get outside your narrative of WWE > AEW.


Having to compare WWE to UFC in order to make AEW look good is a bit weird.

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Alex is all over the place. He always is.

AEW in their debut show was the highest rated debutshow in the last five years of the Network. This is a major win. A company that is essentially an unproven entity debuting to a mainstream audience and proving there is a unique audience for it. TNT is loving those numbers and it will likely stay near the same in the future.

SmackDown got 4 million viewers. A tremendous number sure… But WWE has gotten those numbers over the last year, and it’s proven to show that those are outlier numbers that are never maintained.

I hope for WWE’s sake those numbers for SmackDown grow… but based on recent years I have no reason to expect to see that.

And again WWE Smackdown as a brand is 20 years old and an established brand. There is no reason they shouldn’t be getting that kind of viewership.

AEW is a a brand new entity building their product up. SmackDown is getting a billion dollars to deliver a specific product and should be delivering those numbers. Apples to oranges in comparing these numbers.

And MJ isn’t bringing up UFC to make AEW look good. He’s bringing it up to show Smackdown’s number is nothing spectacular.

I am a little lol.

I like AEW better than WWE. I was a bit disappointed with the overall number.

I am stunned Smackdown did 4 mill. I thought 3 mill. This is a huge number

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To be fair, it’s been 8 years and the UFC aren’t doing numbers like that anymore either. The UFC’s debut on ESPN this year did like 2.8m or something if I recall (featuring one Cain Velasquez). And they couldn’t dream of getting 4 million for a fight night anymore (unless they went ballistic and put, say, a Khabib level star on free tv).

I’d day the WWE is a hotter commodity then the UFC is right now (not comparing product quality), at least on television. But I’d also agree with your point that this number isn’t anything to write home about either.


AEW’s debut figure is also an outlier. They’re a new show but the hype around a totally new show that’s heavily backed with money is a bigger deal in wrestling than an established show simply moving channel.

I don’t expect WWE to stay in the high 3s, I think they’d have done well to regularly be in the low 3s to be honest. I also don’t think AEW will maintain their position in the mid 1s in a few months time either.

It’s wrestling, it won’t draw crazy viewership numbers especially straight away. Getting people outside of regular wrestling viewers to watch the show will take time if it happens. This whole idea of AEW recapturing the lapsed wrestling fan isn’t something that’s been reflected in the numbers. AEW & NXT combined on Wednesday drew what you’d expect on a random episode of Raw. There’s a ceiling to regular live viewers of wrestling in my opinion and in the US it seems to be around 2.2m.

I agree, Dynamite’s number could be an outlier - but there is no history of the product’s viewership to base that on. But yes a week 1 to week 2 there is usually a drop off.

I also don’t buy into the idea that there are all these fans returning to the sport who left after WCW closed. What is do believe is that a great number of those viewers of the 1.8 (combined viewership for AEW’s Wednesday nights shows) are not WWE viewers. Based on the sample size that is this forum, there were countless fans who said they didn’t watch WWE anymore. I think that sample speaks to their viewers. I really believe they gave a strong possible audience that are not regular WWE viewers. (I mean aside from several of the big WWE Network events every year and occasional house shows, I don’t watch the product and haven’t watched weekly in a decade… But I watched AEW, and can see myself watching weekly.)

Relating this to Smackdown. WWE has its current audience. At most it seems to top out at 4 million on their biggest shows (SmackDown on Fox, Raw 25, etc). As I’ve said many time, it is very difficult to see WWE ever growing their audience.

I thought AEW would be a competitor to WWE like WCW was. I love AEW. I went ringside to All Out with my pregnant wife lol.

Today I can see that for now AEW is a competitor more to NXT and not to WWE main roster. Smackdown and Raw were far above them in ratings. It wasn’t close.

We are making a big deal of 1.4 vs 800k. His was almost 4 mill.

I think it frames for me where AEW is. There are more on par with the NXT and ROH audience

WCW didn’t become a competitor overnight. And it’s hard to differentiate WCW and JCP / NWA before that as a competitor.

ROH is not doing ANYWHERE near AEW numbers.

NXT is WWE main roster now. It’s a third brand and there is no difference anymore.

When was the last time any WWE show lost in ratings to another promotion, head to head - regardless of the show?

Context is very important. You can’t just say AEW is a failure compared to WWE’s debut on Network TV rating.

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It’s not a failure. But I think it’s a sobering reminder that they aren’t major league yet

They had the highest premiere on the network in 5 years! That is major league, at least to their home Network… Which is the most important eyes to impress.

Context again Alex.

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I wasn’t comparing it to AEW at all. I was comparing it to the most comparable debut on the same network in the past 10 years


Agree WWE is a bigger commodity but this is the WWE going out all. Which is disappointing since I was convinced the show would do a massive number showing Wrestling had wider appeal (at least for one night) on a larger platform.

Wednesday proved the interest in wrestling at least for one night is there. 2.5 mil for two supposedly niche brands debuting on big platforms. So I expected WWE on FOX (bigger brand and bigger names on as big a network as possible) would be higher than a great number for RAW on USA (citing the RAW 25 example for last January).

This goes back to my point about WWE being it’s own problem with its audience numbers. On one day a year when you expect them to show large audiences they don’t do it. Which makes shrinking ratings more concerning than just TV viewing habits.


I don’t disagree with any of your points. I just think the comparison to the UFC in 2011 doesn’t entirely work considering the general decline of TV viewing habits that even the UFC can only do a fraction of in 2019 (as well the live sporting aspect of a UFC heavyweight title fight).

I actually think there are a lot of similarities between the UFC and WWE right now in terms of declining TV ratings, less star power, yet significantly increased revenue from TV deals.
And that’s not to say that there aren’t outliers to the comparison, for example; I don’t think the WWE could do anything to generate the interest of a Conor McGregor/GSP fight or something along those lines, nor could the UFC do anything to consistently maintain the TV ratings that WWE does. But I do find the similarities between the two companies right now interesting.