By Josh Nason, WrestlingObserver.com
USA Network announced Tuesday that they will become the “exclusive cable home to WWE marquee properties” and will bring Smackdown to USA starting in the first quarter of 2016. Smackdown joins RAW and Tough Enough, which premieres on Tuesday, June 23rd at 8 PM EST.
There was no mention if the show would remain on Thursday nights, but there is plenty of time for both sides to figure that out.
Here’s the official release from WWE:
NEW YORK, NY and STAMFORD, CONN – April 7, 2015 – USA is expanding its commitment to the live action entertainment company WWE, bringing SmackDown to the network in the first quarter of 2016. Now the exclusive cable home to WWE marquee properties, USA airs the powerhouse Monday Night Raw live 52 weeks a year and the reality competition series WWE Tough Enough, which returns this summer in a reimagined format with live elements.
“WWE consistently delivers one of the largest and most socially engaged live audiences in entertainment and we’re excited to expand our long-standing relationship and be the true cable home for the WWE fan,” said USA Network President Chris McCumber.
“WWE is proud to have SmackDown join Raw as part of our expanded partnership with USA Network,” said WWE Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Vince McMahon. “The combination of the #1 cable network and two ratings juggernauts provides a destination for our viewers and an extraordinary platform for our partners.”
Earlier this year, USA announced the renewal of WWE Tough Enough, premiering Tuesday, June 23 at 8/7c. The reimagined series will feature an all-new format with live elements and more fan participation than ever before. In addition, WWE recently unveiled a new brand campaign “For The Hero In All of Us,” that engages consumers through #MyHeroIs, inviting fans to name their favorite WWE Superstars and share personal and inspirational stories of heroism.
Monday Night Raw on USA is the most-watched, regularly scheduled, year-round program on cable, airing a live three-hour block every Monday night, 52 weeks a year. Raw has been a cable mainstay for more than 20 years and is consistently a top ten show on television. Year-to-date Raw averages 1.95MM P18-49, 2.02MM P25-54 and 4.43MM total viewers P2+ and SmackDown averages 1.1MM P18-49, 1.22MM P25-54, and 2.86MM total viewers P2+. In 2014, Raw and SmackDown reached 55.9MM total viewers P2+.
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With more than 800 original episodes, SmackDown is the second longest-running weekly episodic program in U.S. television history, only behind Monday Night Raw. Over the past 15 years, SmackDown has been broadcast from 170 different venues, in 148 cities, in seven different countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Iraq, Japan, Italy and Mexico.