As many of you probably figured, the announcement about the new “Wild Card” format was a reaction to the declining ratings.
Meltzer noted that television executives were not happy and concerned about the ratings dropping at such an alarming rate. There was pressure from NBCUniversal (USA Network) and FOX to make changes. Remember, SmackDown Live doesn’t move to FOX until October but there is pressure to get ratings up now so they need to do everything to make that show feel important before October. That is why Roman Reigns was moved to SmackDown Live. There is nothing stopping FOX from moving SmackDown Live to FS1 if ratings don’t stay at acceptable levels.
The problem with moving Reigns is that NBCUniversal also wants star power on Raw because they are paying a lot of money to keep Raw for another five years. NBCU asked why Reigns was moved off of Raw so that is why the decision was made to have him appear on both brands.
NBCUniversal was said to be really upset about the ratings drop from last week, especially the third hour. That would explain why they hyped the “true” WWE Championship match for the final hour of the show this week.
According to what Vince McMahon said on Raw, four Superstars will move back and forth between brands. It will be interesting to see how this affects live events. In particular, it will be very interesting to see how this affects SmackDown live events that take place at the same time as Raw.
You can expect more “out of the box” ideas during the next several months, especially as football season gets closer. Raw typically sees a ratings drop against NFL games.