In a deal which cost Fox billions of dollars to bring WWE SmackDown to its broadcast network for the next five years, concerns have started to be raised by critics about the television ratings decline for WWE programming as of late.
Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier was asked by The Wrap at the Television Critics Association press tour about whether there are protections in place should SmackDown not bring in the ratings expected when it makes its move in the fall. For the most part, Collier deflected the question.
"I'm a guy that came out of cable," said Collier. "And for the last few decades in cable, what's driven the No. 1 network has been wrestling.
"And so for us to have a consistent presence is thrilling."
In reference to his comments, Collier was talking about USA Network, which will keep RAW on Monday nights. SmackDown, which airs on Tuesdays on the same network, will make the move to Fox and subsequently shift to Friday nights this October.
"In terms of protections – this is a company that historically really leaned into NFL at a time where I think no one thought Fox could do so, and they've turned out to become the leading purveyor of the NFL," Collier continued. "And we're leaning into WWE with just as much enthusiasm."
When asked if Fox is committed to SmackDown for the full five years regardless of if viewership rise or falls, Collier replied, "Yeah."
TV ratings for WWE have rebounded slightly in recent weeks, amid the introduction of Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff as executive directors for RAW and SmackDown, respectively. However, ratings are down double digits since WWE signed their television deal with FOX last year.
WWE SmackDown Live will debut on FOX on Friday, October 4th.