It’s a rare case of the cable network tail wagging the broadcast network dog: UPN has pulled its Sept. 6 edition of “WWF Smackdown” from its usual Thursday slot to make sure that armies of young men won’t get pulled away from the annual live cablecast of the “MTV Video Music Awards.”
In a statement, the World Wrestling Federation said that Viacom, which owns MTV and UPN, asked the WWF to make that concession for the one week even though the time-period shift of “Smackdown” would come too late to get listed in TV Guide and all of the newspaper Sunday TV supplements.
The two-hour “Smackdown” telecast scheduled for Thursday will instead air tonight.
The WWF acceded to Viacom’s request because the two companies have a long-term contract that funnels weekly wrestling series not only to UPN but to Viacom’s TNN, whose two-hour “Raw Is War” Monday night slamfest is consistently the highest-rated series in all of basic cable, and to MTV, which scores solid numbers with “Sunday Night Heat.”
A WWF spokesman said the company plans to organize a media blitz to make cable viewers aware that UPN’s “Smackdown” will appear on Tuesday, not Thursday.
And UPN will offer minimal competition to the “MTV Video Music Awards” by scheduling double runs of repeat episodes of “The Hughleys” and “Girlfriends,” two returning sitcoms.
Because the broadcast networks have scheduled mostly reruns for the night, MTV is hoping to harvest strong ratings for Thursday’s “Video Music Awards,” to be hosted by Jamie Foxx.