By Karen Moul
Syfy continues to shake up the schedule and expand beyond its sci-fi roots with new and different programming, and things got very different this month when WWE Friday Night SmackDown premiered on October 1.
While many have had trouble understanding the move, SmackDown could be a shrewd move for Syfy as the network looks to expand into other entertainment platforms, including gaming. SmackDown is a big draw among a critical audience, males aged 18-49. If the existing WWE audience makes its way over to Syfy, the network has the opportunity to engage them in other Syfy programs and grow its overall audience.
It's a good move for WWE too. By joining Syfy, Friday Night SmackDown is now part of the NBC Universal family. That means considerable marketing across NBC platforms which include such properties as USA, Telemundo, the Universal theme parks, and Hulu. Opportunities for cross promotion are almost endless.
So far SmackDown is settling into its new home nicely. The ratings for the past four weeks have been pretty solid and SmackDown continues to be a top five show among males 18-34. It was actually down a bit last week (October 22), but the Major League Baseball playoffs over on TBS have been stiff competition. Nevertheless, SmackDown was the number two cable show among males 18-49, behind the final game of the Yankees-Rangers series. It will be interesting to see what happens after the World Series when viewing habits get back to normal.
Meanwhile, the WWE crew is getting comfortable in their new digs. "We have a whole new audience now with Syfy," says two time women's champion Beth Phoenix, "and I feel like WWE is just as excited to cross over with them as they are to have us cross over." Superstar Cody Rhodes is taking the crossover very seriously - in August he was a guest star on Warehouse 13.
Beth Phoenix and·Kofi Kingston recently met with journalists to discuss life as WWE Superstars. Two of the most engaging performers on the press tour, they discussed everything from diet and exercise to their favorite Syfy shows.