Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer is reporting that the reason Smackdown is going live is because USA Network is not thrilled with the ratings the show has been doing.
It’s no secret that Raw and Smackdown have dropped in the ratings over the past two years however Smackdown has seen a significant drop lately, thanks in part to WWE treating it as their B show. Going live might change that belief regarding the show but now Smackdown – just like Raw – will only have a limited roster after the brand splits.
Meltzer also adds that USA Network will not be paying any additional money to cover for the increase costs of going live. USA pays WWE a hefty sum for every Raw and Smackdown produced.
Smackdown started on USA Network with 2.7 million viewers and just last week the show had 2.1 million viewers. Since January 7, Smackdown has hit the 2.7 million mark on two other occasions only with now the show hovering around the 2.1 and 2.3 million viewer mark.