WWE fans in the Philippines are in for a big surprise.
Starting next Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, new episodes of WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown will now air live at 8:00 a.m. on FOX Sports Philippines. Same-day replays will air within 12 hours of original broadcast on FOX Philippines.
With viewers becoming more dependent on WWE’s social media accounts to follow the action as it happens, it was only imperative for FOX to make this drastic measure. After all, the success of WWE Live in Manila last September only furthered wrestling fans’ desire to watch WWE programming on a regular basis.
Although the announcement was enthusiastically welcomed by WWE fans in the country, there are still some issues to address. Last Monday morning in Manila, many viewers awaited the live telecast of the Raw-exclusive Hell in a Cell pay-per-view on FOX Philippines, only to be greeted by replays of ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘American Dad’.
The erratic WWE pay-per-view scheduling issue on FOX Philippines has been well-documented since it fully acquired the company’s broadcast rights in 2014. There were times when WWE pay-per-views were aired on the channel live, and there were other occasions when it first aired within 12-13 hours of original broadcast.
And just recently, FOX began to focus more on the flagship Raw brand once the brand extension came into play. As a result, SmackDown-branded pay-per-views were not aired, and to make matters worse, SmackDown itself was aired on a one-week delay.
While FOX Philippines should be excused for not airing Hell in a Cell live (thank you ‘The Walking Dead’), their indecision is an inexcusable one. Come on, FOX Sports Philippines also airs WWE programming (mostly recap shows), so why not transfer those live pay-per-views to the said channel.
As for the delay and subsequent snubbing of SmackDown and its related programs, it is unfair to do such a thing. Both Raw and SmackDown are equally important and must-watch shows, and deemphasizing either one of them is insulting to any wrestling fan.
As both FOX networks move on to upcoming pay-per-views and episodes of Raw and SmackDown, one thing is certain: no one wants to be left behind. For wrestling fans, this is a promise that FOX will have to fulfill in the weeks ahead.