SmackDown was once considered to be the most cohesive brand in the WWE - behind NXT, of course - during a time when Paul Heyman hadn't taken over the reins of the Red Brand and Triple H's show was still a taped event.
Ever since SmackDown moved to FOX, the quality of the show has taken a hit and the ratings have also not reached predicted heights.
It was revealed on the latest edition of Sportskeeda's Dropkick DiSKussions podcast by Tom Colohue that there are several FOX officials who are concerned about the ratings.
Tom told host Korey Gunz that FOX initially projected an average rating of 2.8 to 3 Million. However, the company has rarely gone beyond the 2.3 million mark, with one of the exceptions being Goldberg's return last week that gave the show a boost.
Tom also speculated that the returns of Goldberg and John Cena have been booked to appease the officials at FOX. WWE has done all that they can to make SmackDown seem like the A-Show, however, it's clearly lagging behind NXT and RAW in every aspect at the moment and that is affecting the viewership figures.
Tom noted the following:
A large part of why Eric Bischoff left was according to contacts in FOX, rather than contacts in WWE, let me make that clear, he simply wasn't keeping promises that he had made. To my knowledge, the expectations when it came to ratings was like 2.8 to 3 Million. That's what they were thinking. That's what they were looking at. That's what their projections were.
It has not reached that level. It has, in fact, been extremely close at 2.4 or 2.5 and not only that, the opinion of the show isn't particularly strong when it comes to the viewership. A lot of people view NXT more highly, a lot of people view RAW more highly once Paul Heyman came in.
So they are not getting what they paid for. It's not the flagship, some of that comes down to the fact that Edge returned for RAW. So you have the big moment like that, and it's stuff like where are you expecting the next legend to appear. The next Undertaker appearance, the next Triple H appearance.
I do think there is a bit of appeasement going on with Goldberg, with Cena and of course, with the Universal Championship moving over, which at the time, felt like the more important championship because of links to Brock Lesnar. But they were given Lesnar, Lesnar was taken away. There are a number of people at Fox who have concerns about the ratings at the moment.
The Fiend's storyline with Goldberg should help SmackDown get a bump in the ratings for now, however, the company would need to make a few major changes in the long run to acheive a high number consistently.