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‘Smackdown’ moves to cable

Wrestling series shift to Syfy and begins in October

World Wrestling Entertainment’s “Friday Night SmackDown” is moving to cable.

The weekly two-hour series, which serves as the linchpin of MyNetwork TV, will premiere on Syfy beginning Oct. 1 and fill the 8 p.m. timeslot.

As a result, “Caprica,” “Stargate Universe” and “Sanctuary” will shift from Friday to Tuesday.

“SmackDown” has been on the air for 10 years, bowing on UPN before moving to the CW after the UPN-WB merger. It set up its ring on MyNetwork TV in October 2008 and is, by far, the most-watched show on the net.

But WWE had been looking for a higher-profile home for “SmackDown,” its second most popular show behind “Monday Night Raw,” which airs on USA Network.

Syfy is ponying up close to $30 million in an annual fee to land “SmackDown,” making the shift a hugely profitable one for the Connecticut-based WWE, considering MyNetwork paid around $15 million, sources close to the situation said.

Syfy was already in business with WWE, airing the company’s “NXT,” a recently revamped version of “ECW.” The hourlong show aired on Tuesday night, and like “ECW” was used as a vehicle to introduce new wrestlers who could migrate to WWE’s more high-profile shows and pay-per-views.

“NXT” will continue airing on Syfy through October when “SmackDown” launches. WWE is negotiating with other networks to find “NXT” a new home.

With overall numbers up 22% in year-to-year comparisons, sources say MyNetwork decided it was more cost-efficient to drop wrestling after two seasons and add an offnet show to Fridays.

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