Professional wrestling fans will have a few changes made to their regular programming lineup this summer. The USA Network announced that its weekly Smackdown show will now air live, a first for the series< and move to Tuesdays every week beginning July 19 from 8-10PM ET/PT.
With the SMACKDOWN move, USA Network will now offer five hours of live WWE programming a week, including the weekly three-hour live WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW (airing Mondays from 8-11PM ET/PT), with each show featuring a distinct cast, unique storylines and a dedicated writing team.
In 2016 to date, MONDAY NIGHT RAW is averaging over 4M total viewers. In 2015, the two programs combined reached over 50MM viewers. Both shows will now air live 52 weeks a year.
“The fan base for our WWE shows is one of the most passionate and engaged audiences in all of entertainment,” said Chris McCumber, President, Entertainment Networks, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “There is a huge appetite among our viewers for live programming, and the ability to move SMACKDOWN to a live format brings a new level of excitement and helps truly eventize this every week.”
“WWE’s flagship programs will both leverage the incredible depth of our talent roster, distinct storylines and the unpredictable nature of live TV,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. “This move will undoubtedly build more excitement and deepen engagement with our fans around the world.”
With 874 original episodes, SMACKDOWN is the second longest-running weekly episodic program in U.S. television history, only behind MONDAY NIGHT RAW at 1,200 episodes.
Beginning July 19, immediately following Smackdown, USA Network will premiere the new original drama Shooter, starring Ryan Phillippe (“Secrets and Lies”), at 10/9c.
The new series is based on the best-selling Bob Lee Swagger novel by Stephen Hunter, Point of Impact, and the 2007 Paramount film starring Mark Wahlberg.
The series follows the courageous journey of Swagger, a highly-decorated ex-marine sniper who is coaxed back into action after he learns about a plot to kill the President. Mark Wahlberg (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Entourage”) of Closest to the Hole Productions serves as executive producer along with Stephen Levinson (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Ballers”) of Leverage Entertainment; Lorenzo di Bonaventura (“Transformers,” “The Real O’Neals”) and John Hlavin (“The Shield”). The series is a co-production between Paramount Television and Universal Cable Productions.