Well that was certainly a (ratings) smackdown. Last night, Fox’s “Friday Night SmackDown” debut drew 3.888 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. The premiere landed a 1.4 rating among in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary data, which doubled Friday’s No. 2 show, “Hawaii Five-0.”
Adding in Fox Deportes and streaming platforms, the all-in viewer tally rose to 3.999 million.
As expected, “SmackDown” fared better in the key demo than it did overall. Though it was easily primetime’s highest-rated show last night, “Friday Night SmackDown” finished fifth in terms of total viewers, behind CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” “Hawaii 5-0,” “Magnum PI” and NBC’s “The Blacklist.”
The “Friday Night SmackDown” debut results destroyed “SmackDown Live’s” 2019 averages on the show’s former home, USA Network, and its former weeknight, Tuesdays. There and then, the weekly series averaged 2.066 million total viewers, 850,000 of which came from the key demo.
The last four weeks of “SmackDown Live” drew 2.098 million viewers per episode.
USA’s final “SmackDown Live” episode received a 0.7 demo rating and 2.57 million total viewers.
A half-hour “blue carpet” arrivals special led into Fox’s “Friday Night SmackDown” premiere, which also served as the long-running show’s 20th anniversary episode. The actual “SmackDown” episode featured an appearance by WWE alum Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a Ladder Match between Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens, and a WWE Championship match between title-holder Kofi Kingston and challenger Brock Lesnar.
The show’s opening 15 minutes, which saw Johnson and “Raw” Women’s Champion berate and beat down 2019 King of the Ring Baron Corbin, were its most-watched. That quarter-hour averaged 4.217 million viewers on Fox.
Lesnar made mincemeat out of Kingston, winning the title in the blink of an eye. Any celebration didn’t last very long, however, as “The Beast Incarnate’s” former UFC rival Cain Velasquez soon appeared, unofficially announcing his signing with WWE.
On Monday, what WWE billed the show’s “season premiere,” USA Network’s “Raw” received 2.570 million total viewers, with 1.156 million (a 0.89 rating) of them in the main demo.
There was more pro-wrestling on cable on Wednesday, when TNT’s “All Elite Dynamite” debuted to 1.4 million total viewers; 891,000 of them came from the demo. On USA, “NXT” received 878,000 total viewers, of which 414,000 of them were ages 18-49.
“SmackDown” moved to Fox broadcast Friday as part of a billion dollar deal between Fox Sports and WWE. TheWrap first reported Fox’s acquisition and the company’s intention to shift the weekly wrestling show from Tuesdays to Fridays. We also exclusively reported that the two-hour series would remain live.