In a joint press release, Syfy president Dave Howe and WWE chair Vince McMahon announced that the WWE’s long-running program, “Friday Night Smackdown,” would leave MyNetworkTV at the end of September and move to Syfy starting Oct. 1. (full story)
This move will result in Syfy’s popular Friday night lineup being moved to Tuesday nights starting in October. Shows that will be affected include “Stargate: Universe,” “Caprica” and “Sanctuary.” They will join “Warehouse 13” and “Eureka,” which were already on Tuesdays. It also will be the end of the much heralded “SciFi Fridays,” as many called the lineup on Friday nights.
WWE’s “NXT” will leave Syfy at the end of September. According to numerous reports, “NXT” will possibly be moved to Bravo, but no deal is set yet. If there is no deal by September, the show will be canceled.
In the press release, Howe says the WWE is the “ultimate in imagination-based sports entertainment. The fantastical thrills of ‘Friday Night Smackdown’ provide an ideal addition to the Syfy slate, as it targets the younger male and female demographics, which are the fastest growing categories for WWE. Howe went on to say that, With Tuesday night, a proven winner for our original drama series, including ‘Warehouse 13,’ there is bigger opportunity for series such as ‘Stargate: Universe,’ ‘Sanctuary’ and ‘Caprica’ to thrive on a night with a significantly larger number of viewers available to watch live.
McMahon said that Syfy is a “terrific partner, and we look forward to bring out proven ratings winner and 10-year television institution, ‘Friday Night Smackdown,’ to the network.
First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I want it known that I happen to be a wrestling fan, and at one time worked for a small wrestling company. I also write for another Web site about pro wrestling. However, being a science-fiction fan, my reaction to the above news was to do my best Stewie impersonation and say, Oh … my … God!
So this is the answer from Syfy to the many fans of science-fiction that have called for wrestling to leave Syfy: Increase the wrestling and ignore the fans. What is puzzling to me, especially as one who covers wrestling on another site, is the fact that this is a very bad move for the WWE as they will potentially lose a sizable chunk of their audience with this move from broadcast television to cable/satellite.
Now, in all fairness, I will say that “Friday Night Smackdown” has one character that clearly can qualify for the science-fiction/fantasy realm, which is The Undertaker. Beyond that, I’m sorry, but even as a fan of pro wrestling, I can not see the justification for it being on a channel dedicated to the memory of two of science-fictions greats, Isaac Asimov and Gene Roddenberry.
Craig Engler, who tweets for Syfy, had this comment on the channel’s Twitter account: Sports bring younger viewers and drive live viewing, and they bring in a relatively broad audience … more new viewers. That may be true, but I suspect that if it was clearly checked, most of the viewers for wrestling tune away from the channel when the show ends. Mr. Engler fails to note in that comment that professional wrestling is not a sport, but rather sports entertainment. I sincerely hope that was an oversight.
Several months ago, when SciFi Channel made its famous, (or infamous depending on how you look at it and study it), name change to Syfy, many writers on the Internet predicted that this was the first step toward turning the channel into another USA network and away from the vision that created it. I fear we are seeing it happen, one hour at a time.
It will continue until science-fiction fans unite and find a way to make their wishes clearly known to Mr. Howe and the management of Syfy.