SmackDown Live, now known as Friday Night SmackDown, will officially make the jump to FOX starting on Oct. 4. And on top of getting a new name, logo, time slot and (reportedly) entrance stage, the show's presentation will reportedly be changing as well. Seth Winter, Fox Sports executive vice president of sports sales, revealed in an interview with AdAge this week that the network is looking to cut the amount of commercials on the show each in "in the 10-to-20 percent range." This could be great news for the program, as commercial breaks are often placed in the middle of matches and wind up hurting their momentum.
Winter added that the double-box commercial format — where the match continues to air on the screen while a commercial plays next to it — "isn't likely" to be apart of the show.
Over the summer the WWE attempted to push a new mandate of not having commercials during matches, as Vince McMahon reportedly wanted to emulate how sporting events only play commercials during breaks in the action. This wound up backfiring as both Raw and SmackDown became flooded with Two-out-of-Three Falls matches, three-to-five minute matches and referee restarts due to outside interference. The rule was lifted after a few weeks, much to the delight of fans.
The story also included which brands will be involved in SmackDown's weekly advertising. Progressive has signed on to be the company's presenting sponsor while Snickers, Pizza Hut, Boost Mobile and Paramount will also be involved.
SmackDown's first episode will feature a WWE Championship match between Kofi Kingston and Brock Lesnar and a Four Horsewomen tag match with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair versus Sasha Banks and Bayley. The episode will also serve as the SmackDown 20th Anniversary Special, meaning that stars from the past like Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Goldberg, Ric Flair, Sting, Mick Foley, Booker T, Lita and Kurt Angle will all appear on the show as well.
The following episode will kick off a new WWE Draft as the brand split between SmackDown and Raw is re-established. There's no word yet on how the format of this draft will work, though WWE did announce in a press release that FOX and NBCUniversal personalities would take part in the two-night event.
WWE is also gearing up for a weekly studio show as part of the deal with FOX. The latest reports indicate the show will air on Tuesdays with the working title WWE Backstage.