You don't often hear professional wrestling at the forefront of industry trends, but WWE Smackdown Live could be sparking a revolution in television. NBCUniversal is shaking up commercials for its live show as we know it, and the idea is something all networks should take note of. Soon, the action of WWE will be more nonstop than previously, as Smackdown implements picture in picture advertising.
USA, which airs both WWE products Monday Night RAW and Smackdown Live, did a test run of picture in picture advertising last year to some success. Each airing of the live program featured two breaks in which the action would switch to a small screen and advertisements would play on a larger screen with full audio. Broadcasting Cable says USA saw an increased viewership of 13% during those segments and experienced an overall bump of 2% in ratings for Smackdown Live. Obviously, the system doesn't really work for scripted shows, but can you imagine if all sporting events emulated NBC's plan for WWE Smackdown Live?
Some sports, like auto racing, already do. As for other sports like the NBA and NFL, who are pondering changes to commercial breaks, this could serve as a viable solution. Granted, the action is a little heavier during a Triple Threat No DQ Ladder Match than your typical timeout in either sport. Still, seeing a team react while a challenged play is in review might keep an audience more drawn in and less likely to flip to the other game on another channel. This concept isn't just exclusive to sports either, as NBC has tried implementing the idea across all live programming, with Hairspray Live! serving as a notable example.
Basically, if the show is live, this picture in picture commercial format can suit it. It's likely less time consuming than Saturday Night Live's sketch commercials they've been rolling out, and probably easier to implement. It also has the chance of preventing those who DVR live shows from hitting the fast forward button as soon as the commercials air, which is something advertisers aren't too fond of. If fewer commercials is simply not an option, this sounds like a good alternative for both viewers and advertisers.
If you're not the biggest fan of WWE Smackdown Live, you'll also get to see NBC's implementation of the picture in picture advertising during the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. If you are curious and want to check it out, USA airs Smackdown Live Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET. WWE isn't the only product with new content rolling out this summer, so make sure you're aware of all shows popping up with our handy guide. With so many shows dropping off this week and last, it may also be a good idea to check in with our renewal guide and see what's gone.