Wednesday, February 28

How To Watch & Stream WWE SmackDown

Highlights

  • SmackDown was created in 1999 to compete with WCW Thunder and has since become WWE’s top-rated show.
  • SmackDown has changed networks and airing nights over the years, but currently airs on FOX on Fridays at 8 pm Eastern.
  • Viewers can watch SmackDown through various streaming services like YouTube TV, FuboTV, and Hulu + LiveTV, or on cable channels such as Sportsnet 360 and TNT Sports 1 HD.


On Thursday, April 29, 1999, during the height of the Attitude Era, the first episode of WWE SmackDown aired. Raw, which began in 1993, was WWE’s flagship show, but with Vince McMahon in the middle of not just a Monday night but an all-out war with WCW, his promotion created a second show to go up against WCW Thunder, which aired on Thursdays. SmackDown has changed a lot over the decades, going from taped to live, and moving nights and networks, but now it’s WWE’s top-rated show every week. With WWE’s roster so big, a divided group of Superstars between Raw and SmackDown has helped WWE grow even more.

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10 First Episodes Of WWE Smackdown, Ranked Worst To Best

SmackDown is a fixture of WWE programming today, but how did the first few episodes stack up?

Why Did WWE Create SmackDown?

WCW Thunder Led To The Beginning Of WWE SmackDown

In 1999, the Monday Night Wars between WWE and WCW were still going strong, though Ted Turner’s company was starting to see cracks that would become giant holes in the next year. Every Monday Raw and Nitro went at it, and though Nitro famously won the ratings war for 83 weeks straight, WWE was back in control most weeks thanks to building iconic stars like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, and Triple H. WCW wasn’t dead though. They had started a Thursday night show called WCW Thunder, with its first episode airing on January 8, 1998.

SmackDown, named after one of The Rock’s catchphrases, was created to go up against Thunder, starting its life on a network called UPN. Though small, UPN stood out for being a broadcast network, and not cable based. On his Something to Wrestle With podcast, Bruce Prichard talked about how SmackDown came to be. He said:

“They were looking for something to build them up. UPN-Viacom had seen what we had done for the USA Network and they felt that by bringing it onto a broadcast and putting it into a primetime slot it could be their signature show.

“We were reaching out and looking for partners for the XFL. Vince McMahon looks at all of the [UPN] programming and thought, what about pro wrestling? What about doing something else? Vince McMahon always wanted that broadcast spot; that primetime broadcast spot and when it became available he jumped at it.” (h/t Wrestling Inc.)

Where Can I Watch WWE Raw?

Viewers With & Without Cable Have Options To Watch WWE Raw

Roman Reigns

Country

Cable Channel & Streaming Service

United States

FOX, YouTube TV, FuboTV, DirectTV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV

Canada

Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet Plus

United Kingdom

TNT Sports 1 HD, Channel 5Action

SmackDown is currently WWE’s top show. Though treated as the company’s “B” show for the first two decades of its life, a 2019 deal that saw it move to FOX led to SmackDown seeing a huge rating increase. It now airs on FOX on Fridays at 8 pm Eastern. For Canadian viewers, Sportsnet 360 carries the broadcast rights for SmackDown. In today’s era, however, TV viewers are dropping cable by the millions, cutting the cord in favor of streaming services. For fans without cable, you can catch SmackDown with streaming services such as YouTube TV, FuboTV, DirectTV, Hulu + LiveTV, or SlingTV. There is also the option of going old school and picking up FOX through an antenna. TNT Sports 1 HD, formerly BT Sport, is the SmackDown home for United Kingdom viewers. A one-hour SmackDown highlight show can be found every Sunday morning on Channel 5Action.

SmackDown risks becoming WWE’s second place show again next year when it leaves FOX to return to cable on the USA Network, the current home of Raw, whose TV rights are also expiring in 2024. While FOX wasn’t interested in keeping SmackDown, going back to cable seems like a step-down for many WWE fans. SmackDown will surely see a significant ratings decrease, as currently they pull in several hundred thousand more viewers every week than Raw does.

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10 Times Women Main Evented WWE Smackdown, Ranked Worst To Best

WWE SmackDown has put on plenty of great main events that featured their Women’s Division!

Where Can I Watch Old Episodes Of WWE SmackDown?

Many Streaming Services Give You The Option Of Watching Old WWE SmackDown Episodes

Country

Cable Channel & Streaming Service

United States

Peacock

Canada

Sportsnet Plus

United Kingdom

WWE Network

In its lifetime, SmackDown has aired in the United States on UPN, The CW, MyNetworkTV, the USA Network, and FOX. Every old episode has one home for U.S. viewers though, as you can find every past episode that is more than a month old on Peacock. Not only that, but Peacock has Raw, NXT, and is the home of WWE’s premium live events. Canadian fans can find older SmackDown content on Sportsnet+, while viewers in the United Kingdom still have the WWE Network.

SmackDown is the brand of Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Though the Tribal Chief is now a part-timer, it’s the place where you can still find stars like the newly signed Randy Orton, LA Knight, and WWE Women’s Champion Iyo Sky.

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