Two big bits of news on the wrestling TV front today: WWE is officially moving Smackdown to Thursday nights, and it’s becoming clearer that Spike TV is not interested in continuing its relationship with TNA.
First to the Smackdown news: WWE let the cat out of the bag earlier this month when it parked a production truck outside a live event with an advertisement for Smackdown being on the air on Thursdays on SyFy. Now we have a date for the move: Thursday, Oct. 2.
This, incidentally, is how you do a move from one night to another in TV, giving it a few weeks so fans can find the show, and also so DVR guides can find the show.
Spike TV recently moved Impact Wrestling from Thursday to Wednesday, ostensibly with the Smackdown move on SyFy as the motivation., but did so with less than a week notice, and saw the viewer numbers crater in the process, from a recent high of 1.4 million viewers earlier in the month to 850,000 viewers for the first Wednesday broadcast.
It isn’t likely to be that much longer that we will see Impact on Spike TV. Even with the announcement from TNA President Dixie Carter this week that Spike TV had agreed to broadcast Impact Wrestling through the end of the calendar year, word backstage is that Spike TV officials had been making it clear as early as May of this year that they are no longer interested in being in the wrestling business.
More word backstage is that TNA has found a new broadcast partner, but without that partner having been identified yet, it is said to be on a cable network with far less reach than Spike.
One could expect, then, a much lower haul in rights fees for TNA, which could explain the ongoing mass exodus of TNA stars that started late last year with the departures of Hulk Hogan, Sting and AJ Styles, and recently saw bully ray join those leaving the sinking ship.
– Column by Chris Graham