Monday, August 24, 2020

The Breakdown: Fox Friday in 2019-20 (WWE SmackDown!)

It's time for a journey through the Fox Friday schedule in 2019-20...

NOTE: In addition to classic A18-49+, Breakdown posts in 2019-20 also use CVPlus, comparing spring ratings against a higher league average due to viewership inflation from COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. See here for more.


2018-19Last Man StandingThe Cool KidsHell's Kitchen101
2019-20WWE SmackDown!104 (+3%)
104 (-12%)104 (+25%)

Fox picked up the long-running WWE franchise SmackDown! for fall of 2019, and it made a major splash with a 1.4 premiere on October 4. Barely a month later, half of the premiere audience was gone, and it was hitting a 0.7 most weeks in the second half of the fall; that put it well behind what Last Man Standing had done a year ago, but enough to post growth across the whole night.


2018-19Last Man StandingThe Cool KidsHell's Kitchen89
2019-20WWE SmackDown!95 (+8%)
95 (-1%)95 (+18%)

SmackDown! settled into a very reliable 0.7 pretty much throughout the winter period and even eked out the occasional 0.8. It did not drop as much from fall to winter as Last Man so there was a little more growth in the winter.


2018-19Last Man StandingThe Cool KidsProven Innocent59
2019-20WWE SmackDown!66 (+12%)
66 (-15%)66 (+68%)

The show remained in production throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but the no-fans episodes brought a severe drop at exactly the time that most entertainment programs were having a ratings upswing. After a 0.8 on March 20, it dropped through the 0.7's and 0.6's and was mostly hitting 0.5 by the final month of the regular season.

Rating the Ratings

WWE SmackDown!0.50.721.488hit(Fri)

WWE SmackDown!: It averaged a 0.70 during the 2018-19 regular season on Tuesdays on USA Network (so it was +3% in raw numbers) and that growth is +8% if you exclude the spring from both periods. The fact that it was barely above the year-ago entertainment lineups might seem underwhelming, but that's really more a testament to what Last Man Standing pulled off last year. (Its growth vs. the historical averages paints a much rosier picture.) Still, given the considerable investment and how strongly it started, I think the final result was just OK, even if you completely toss out what happened in the spring. This is not the kind of thing I usually grade but I guess I would go with something like a Grade: B-.

The names in this last table link to the shows' War of 18-49 pages. Links with an asterisk(*) have been updated with the new info. Updates to younger shows will come later in the summer.

Previous Breakdowns for Fox Friday: 2015-16 | 2016-17 | 2017-18 | 2018-19

Here's the now updated Schedules Plus for Fox Friday.

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