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Eric Bischoff on whether SmackDown ratings decline was a factor into his WWE departure

Eric Bischoff did an extensive interview with Alex McCarthy of talkSPORT about his release from WWE, what his duties were, and more.

Bischoff was replaced by Bruce Prichard as the Executive Director of SmackDown back in October, which marked his departure from the company. Prichard now oversees the show and reports directly to WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon.

In the interview, Bischoff was asked whether the decline of ratings for Friday Night SmackDown on FOX played a factor into his release.

“I don’t think my departure had anything to do with the ratings. I think my departure had everything to do with Vince McMahon expectations of how I would fill a brand new role that had never really existed before. He saw it one way and I didn’t have that same clear understanding or picture of that role, so it was inevitable that it wasn’t going to work out.”

Bischoff stated that McMahon is not the kind of guy to dwell on things but rather once he makes a decision, he’s pretty quick to move on it.

“I think it was just his assessment that for whatever reason, I wasn’t the right guy for the role. But I don’t think it had anything to do with the ratings. If it did, Paul Heyman would have been fired. And he’s still there.”

Bischoff noted that he has more respect for Paul Heyman, who is the Executive Director of Raw, than he’s ever had in his life because he learned more from Heyman in the time that he worked with him in WWE for a few months than he ever did before.

He later added that whatever is going on with Raw or isn’t has very little to do with Heyman.

“But to the point of the question, if it was a ratings issue… October 14th was the premiere on FOX. It did 3.8 million viewers. That’s a fair amount. The following week did about 2.8, 2.9 million.”

Bischoff continued by noting that anyone with knowledge about how the TV industry works knows that a highly promoted season premiere of anything generally rates about 25-30 percent higher than the rest of the season does.

He brought up how viewership went 3.8 million, which was for the FOX premiere, to around 2.9 million the following week. He pointed out how prior to the coronavirus outbreak, SmackDown kind of hovered around 2.3-2.4 million viewers.

Bischoff brought up how WWE Raw was doing in viewership before the virus and now.

“Year before that 2.6 or 2.7 million – whatever the numbers were, there’s been a steady decline in viewership for three or four years. So, if ratings were the issue why I was let go, Heyman wouldn’t be there, and neither would Bruce Prichard.”

You can check out the full interview here.






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