Who knew that a bunch of wrestlers would have enough muscle to build a TV network?
World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon has often touted the company’s ability to deliver “ratings success to each and every network partner” it’s worked with.
Turns out those aren’t just fighting words.
MyNetworkTV saw its ratings surge Oct. 3 with the bow of WWE’s weekly “Friday Night SmackDown” series of bouts.
Two-hour show was watched by 3.2 million viewers, attracting “the most viewers in the network’s history,” says Greg Meidel, prexy of MyNetworkTV. Its overall 1.9 rating was a 217% ratings boost for the channel and a 233% increase among the 18- to 49-year-old demo.
In its earlier incarnations, the series was one of the few consistent hits for both the CW and UPN since 1999, especially helpful ratingswise when those networks launched.
And its sister series “Monday Night Raw” also has helped boost viewership, especially among young males, for basic cabler USA since 2005. It’s averaging around a 3.2 rating on the cabler this year.
The move to MyNetworkTV has brought down viewership for “Smackdown,” however, and will affect the revenue the show generates from ads for WWE. Show had been averaging a 2.5 rating this year on the CW.
But WWE execs aren’t worried.
“It’s not about where you start, it’s where you end up,” says Geof Rochester, executive VP of marketing. “We’ve seen this movie before. We’ve done this with other brands. This was week one. We’re going to keep the pressure on this launch.”