World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE) stock slid 6.7% on Wednesday in what will be one of the most important weeks for WWE and its competitors in recent memory.
WWE and its new competitors are making major adjustments to their weekly TV scheduling, and the results of these shifts could have a tremendous impact on WWE’s future TV revenue and its market share in the pro wrestling industry.
WWE Programming Getting New Homes
The biggest move for WWE programming this week is the highly-anticipated debut of “SmackDown Live” on the flagship network of Fox Corp (NASDAQ: FOXA) starting on Friday, Oct. 4. “SmackDown Live” previously aired on Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA) subsidiary USA Network prior to WWE’s new $1 billion deal with Fox.
In addition to the “SmackDown” shift, WWE moved its weekly NXT brand programming from the subscription-based WWE Network to Wednesday nights on the USA Network starting on Sept. 18.
WWE also recently announced it will be debuting a brand new weekly show called “WWE Backstage” on the FS1 network on Tuesday nights starting on Nov. 5.
WWE's “Raw,” which will continue to air Monday nights on the USA Network, also had its season premiere episode this week. The episode drew an average rating of 2.57 million viewers, its highest rating since Aug. 12.
Competition Bringing The Heat
In addition to WWE programming getting new homes, it will be facing a brand new wave of competition. NXT will face its first direct head-to-head competition this week when All Elite Wrestling premiers its two-hour “Dynamite” show on AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) subsidiary TNT.
The new AEW-NXT Wednesday night competition has drawn comparisons to the so-called Monday Night Wars of the late 1990s and early 2000s when WWE programming went head-to-head against World Championship Wrestling programming on TNT.
While AEW may be the biggest direct threat to WWE in the near-term, IMPACT Wrestling also returned to AXS TV this week and will be debuting its new weekly Tuesday night “IMPACT!” show starting on Oct. 29.
It’s unlikely that AEW or other competitors will be a real threat to WWE’s business any time in the near future. However, the ratings and reactions to WWE’s new programming on USA and Fox channels will go a long way in determining just how lucrative the company’s future TV dals will be.
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Photo courtesy of All Elite Wrestling.
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