SmackDown Live will air under Fox Sports beginning on Oct. 4, and the move to Friday nights may not be the only major change in store for the brand.
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Cageside Seats), there are discussions about SmackDown being extended to three hours once Fox takes over the broadcasts. It was suggested that the third hour of the show will be shown on WWE Network or FS1.
This hasn't been confirmed yet, and it's possible that the show's length stays at two hours under Fox in the early going. But the potential move to three hours is certainly an intriguing idea, and it's something to keep an eye on.
Last year, Fox and WWE agreed on a five-year SmackDown broadcasting deal worth $205 million annually. It will take over for USA Network - who decided not to retain the broadcasting rights - after taking over for Syfy in Jan. 2016.
Earlier this week, WWE also confirmed that NXT broadcasts would move to Wednesday nights on USA Network - beginning in September. The NXT shows will be expanded from one hour to two. This move will help WWE compete with AEW's weekly television program, which will air in the fall and is expected to take place on Wednesday nights as well.
The Oct. 4 episode isn't only marquee because it's the first one under Fox, but it also marks the 20th anniversary of SmackDown Live. A large quantity of WWE legends have been confirmed for the show, including The Undertaker, Sting, Ric Flair, Booker T, Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle, Mark Henry and Trish Stratus, among others.
What This Means
Moving SmackDown to three-hours would be a risky move by Fox and WWE. There's been a noticeable decline in Raw ratings this year, and many fans have called for the show to be cut down to two hours. What are the odds that ratings for SmackDown will improve with the extra hour, especially in a Friday night time slot, where it's hard to draw top-tier ratings? The safer play is two stay at two hours.