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WWE has made official the move of NXT’s weekly TV show from WWE Network to USA Network. The first show on USA will emanate live from Full Sail University in Winterpark, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 18. This gives NXT a two week head start to build viewership before AEW’s debut on TNT in the same timeslot on Oct. 2.
NXT issued a message to ticket holders for the TV tapings scheduled for Sept. 12 at Full Sail, offering tickets instead to the live Sept. 18 show. The message notes that the event starts at 7:30 p.m. ET (30 minutes before the shows goes live on USA Network).
The WWE press release notes that NXT has been on Wednesday nights at 8 ET since 2015, likely in response to accusations that this is a predatory move by NXT to try to undercut AEW on TNT. AEW is airing on Wednesday nights because of live sports conflicts on TNT on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and also to avoid going head-to-head with Raw and Smackdown on Mondays and Wednesdays, respectively.
This move arguably raises the profile of Wednesday night wrestling to the biggest of the week, which is saying something since Monday nights have been the home of WWE’s flagship Monday Night Raw for decades and the battleground night of the Raw vs. Nitro ratings war of the late 1990s. Smackdown moving to Fox broadcast network is a big story, but a head-to-head ratings battle in prime time between two live wrestling shows backed by big money on two of cable’s top tier networks is going to be the top story each week for a while as each show battles for live viewership.
AEW, in our Twitter poll, has an initial advantage by a more than two-to-one margin (28 percent to 13 percent) in terms of which show our Twitter followers who voted in our poll plan to watch if they’re going to chose one over the other. Another 13 percent say they’ll flip between both. And 49 percent said they’ll watch one live and another on delay. Ratings are based on “live and same-night DVR viewership,” so 49 percent of our poll respondents if they watch both shows the same night will be counted in the ratings, as will those who flip between both shows. Total viewership for both shows has a good chance to beat the ratings for Raw and Smackdown, respectively.
— Pro Wrestling Torch (@PWTorch) August 15, 2019
The following is WWE’s full press release…
NXT MOVES TO USA NETWORK
NEW YORK and STAMFORD, Conn., August 20, 2019 – WWE and USA Network today announced an agreement in principle to air WWE’s weekly Wednesday night show, NXT, live on USA Network at 8/7 CT starting Sept. 18.
Following NXT’s growth in popularity, the new two-hour weekly show will expand its reach on USA Network, the leader in cable entertainment, while staying in its Wednesday night timeslot that it has held since 2015.
“The move to USA Network provides an opportunity to deepen our relationship with NBCUniversal and further build the NXT brand,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “Over the long term our goal is to develop a following that can be monetized to the same level as our flagship programs, Raw and Smackdown.”
“USA Network and WWE have one of the longest and most successful partnerships in television history,” said Chris McCumber, President, Entertainment Networks – USA and SYFY. “As the no. 1 cable entertainment network, we’re excited to add NXT to our weekly lineup alongside powerhouse flagship Raw, and to bring a new generation of Superstars to a wide audience.”
NXT launched in 2010 and has risen to become WWE’s third global brand alongside Raw and Smackdown, hosting nearly 200 live events around the world each year. Airing on Wednesday nights at 8 pm, NXT has been WWE Network’s no. 1 weekly series.
NXT offers a unique blend of authentic in-ring action with exciting and entertaining storylines that feature WWE’s hottest up-and-coming Superstars including Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream, Shayna Baszler, Johnny Gargano, Matt Riddle, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai, Candice LeRae, Tommaso Ciampa, Kyle O’Reilly, and Bobby Fish. The brand’s diverse roster consists of elite athletes from the NFL, collegiate and amateur sports, MMA, and international sports such as rugby, kushti, and kabaddi. It is also the birthplace to 80 percent of the current Raw and Smackdown rosters including Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Bray Wyatt, and Baron Corbin.
The series will continue to emanate from Full Sail University in Orlando as part of WWE’s production partnership with the preeminent entertainment, media, arts and technology institution.