WWE Smackdown before Royal Rumble appears to have one of its biggest audiences in recent years, based on prelim rating

WWE Smackdown last night on Fox appears to have delivered a rating on the level of the December 30 episode that featured John Cena.

The preliminary viewership measurement (fast affiliate) for the show, according to Spoiler TV and TV Series Finale, is 2,433,000 viewers. Therefore, we expect the final viewership measurement, which will be reported on Monday afternoon, to be around 2,600,000 viewers.

Fast affiliate numbers for Smackdown, which we’ve tracked since the show moved to Fox in late 2019, are almost always a few percent higher than the final number. In recent weeks the discrepancy has ranged between 4.1% and 7.7%. If the usual difference holds, Friday night’s episode will, at a minimum, be one of the most-watched episodes of recent years.

The December 30 episode stands as the highest total viewership for Smackdown since December 25, 2020, when the program averaged 3,303,000 viewers and benefited from a huge lead-in from an NFL game on Christmas day.

With the exception of that Christmas 2020 episode, the show featuring Cena in a rare match from last month is Smackdown’s highest viewership since February 28, 2020.

Sports telecasts or weather events on rare occasions preempt Smackdown on Fox in some markets, causing the fast affiliate to show viewership that doesn’t reflect actual viewing of the WWE show. We don’t believe there were preemptions on Friday that had a significant effect on the measurement.

Brandon Thurston

Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also worked as an independent wrestler and trainer.

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