By Captain Scarlet
This may have been a consideration for WWE when they decided to shift the show to live, but in many ways the switch confuses me. Live shows are always more expensive than taped, mainly due to the increased production team. A taping crew can be smaller as it has the bonus of post production, while live means you need more people to make sure everything is covered at all times. This will mean Smackdown is more expensive to produce than before. It will also mean an increase in pressure on WWE's production staff, they'll now be doing at least two live shows each week on consecutive nights, with a third being added each PPV weekend.
The WWE fanbase may become more likely to watch Smackdown now (although WWE have spent YEARS making sure the fanbase knows it's an unimportant show), but a change to live won't bring in any new fans. WWE has spent the last decade desperately doing anything for the mainstream to notice them once more (as has TNA), and has run out of options. None of the attitude era stars will bump the needle anymore (as TNA has found to its cost) and neither will the earlier 80's and 90's wrestlers. A change of night and brand split might make WWE more watchable for its existing audience, but the chances are it won't bring back the millions of casual fans who tuned out over the last decade.
Anyway, back to the topic. As I may have intimated earlier, my preferred solution is for TNA to switch nights again. It will damage the ratings again, the previous changes have shown that, but in order for TNA to stay competitive and keep growing again it will need to have a clear playing field, and Smackdown will drag away a lot of viewers. One change that will affect WWE though, and quite badly, is the same thing TNA is going through now. Bringing in a whole load of new wrestlers will be tough for them, as most WWE fans ( and I know this may come as a shock to some NXT fans) don't watch NXT and have no idea who these guys are. WWE will now need to re-stock both rosters, NXT will be raided and will have to re-build while Raw and Smackdown will have to do the same. TNA has already had this problem, a lot of talent has left over the last year, and although they have signed some talented people to replace them, it's taking time to get them over with the crowds.
Many of them are also inexperienced at working on a TV show like Impact. Although NXT is meant to be training ground for WWE, the reality is that the crowds are significantly different. What is popular in NXT, won't necessarily be so in WWE, so although you can prepare wrestlers for the main roster, the gimmicks are hit and miss (mostly miss). This means although TNA has a much depleted roster, it will now be facing a company that is doing the same. Although WWE has bigger star names its mid-card will now be depleted (and that's not taking into account the likes of Cody Rhodes leaving), meaning the ratings will drop. That is in reality why they've avoided it until now.
I guess what I mean is that while I prefer TNA moving nights, the negatives for the WWE move do give them a chink of light. Smackdown has been buried for years and treated as an afterthought, it will have to build a roster around a new bunch of guys most of their fans won't know and on a new night. These are problems that TNA has had to deal with all year, and has begun to show signs in can sort out, it is months ahead of WWE in this regard, but WWE still has its name and all the star power, enough to crush Impact in the ratings. What is a positive for TNA is that it does not have the pressures WWE has when bringing through their new talent, they have shown they are willing to accept a drop in viewers in order to re-build their roster, then hope those fans come back. Some are coming back, but it will be a slow process to get them to do so. If Smackdown and Raws ratings drop with the brand split WWE can only accept that for a short time before they'll start pushing the same people at the top again, they've shown that time and time again over the last decade.
The brand split and change of night for Smackdown is a gamble, and WWE has shown itself to be severely risk averse long term, usually picking the safe option when it can and only shifting when it has to. TNA is in the middle of building a new roster, based around a few older hands, but most of it is young and not that well known. Some of it needs a lot of polishing, some just needs the chance to shine, but TNA have proven they can do both, albeit not uniformly. WWE has a habit of picking up new toys then discarding them when they get bored, preferring to dump wrestlers rather than re-build them as it's less effort.
In my opinion TNA should move to Thursdays as it's the only choice at the moment. They have a talented but not that well known roster, and while they can continue to expand and improve it, that takes time, patience and no opposition. BUT, don't expect the brand split to last all that long. WWE may move Smackdown back to Thursdays after a run on Tuesdays, or if the ratings decline they may just abandon it (while, of course, claiming they aren't). This change may last months, it may be permanent, but with WWE's history, it will probably last until they panic and then decide to shift everything back to how it was beforehand.