The draft episode of WWE SmackDown this past Tuesday gave the program its highest rating in three-and-a-half years. The show registered a 2.20 rating, according to PWTorch.com, and was watched by 3,170,000 viewers in the United States, according to Showbuzzdaily.com.
You'd have to go back to January 11, 2013, when SmackDown was airing on Friday nights on Syfy to find the last time SmackDown did a rating this high.
The rating and viewership (which are two related but distinct metrics) for SmackDown were very similar to that of the RAW on the previous night. RAW's rating was a 2.22, while viewership for each of the three hours was 3,204,000 for the first hour, 3,236,000 for the second and 2,960,000 for the final hour. So, on a minute-by-minute average, SmackDown was viewed by more people than the final hour of RAW, but didn't have higher viewership than the first two hours of RAW.
This was the first time SmackDown came this close to equating RAW in ratings within the same week since around Christmas in 2012, when RAW was stuck on Christmas Eve, and its rating suffered to a 2.20. SmackDown the Friday before beat that episode of RAW, with a 2.29.
Before that, on the week of New Years, going into 2008, New Years Eve fell on a Monday, so RAW did a 2.6. SmackDown, which was on Friday at the time, did a 2.9.
The last time SmackDown outdid RAW when a holiday wasn't involved, was in 2007. RAW on July 30, 2007, did a 2.51 while SmackDown on August 3, 2007, beat it with a 2.62.
It'll be interesting to watch how much of this audience SmackDown can retain going forward. The impetus for SmackDown moving to Tuesday nights, going live and having its own roster, was to improve that program's ratings and better satisfy NBCUniversal, the parent of USA Network: the channel RAW and SmackDown are both broadcast on in the U.S.