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WWE SmackDown overnight ratings get huge boost from NFL lead-in

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Image: WWE

Friday's Christmas night episode of SmackDown averaged 3.336 million viewers on Fox in the fast nationals, the highest viewership for a WWE program since SmackDown's debut episode on Fox in October of last year. 

That total was no doubt bolstered by the NFL, which aired an afternoon game on Fox leading into SmackDown. SmackDown also started slightly late due to NFL coverage going into the 8 p.m. Eastern hour.

Last night's SmackDown was taped in advance and featured three title matches. Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens' steel cage match for the Universal Championship opened the show. In the main event, Big E defeated Sami Zayn in a lumberjack match to win the Intercontinental title. Women's Tag Team Champions Asuka & Charlotte Flair made their first title defense, facing Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair and Bayley & Carmella in a triple threat elimination match.

The first hour of last night's show averaged 4.097 million viewers. The second hour fell 37 percent to 2.574 million. 

Final numbers won't be available until Tuesday due to the holidays. If the final ratings come close to holding up, this would be the most viewed SmackDown since the Fox premiere did 3.888 million viewers.

In the 18-49 demo, SmackDown drew a 0.95 rating with hours of 1.1 and 0.8 respectively. That trailed the NBA on ABC, which averaged 1.1 over it's three hours, but beat everything else on network TV. 

In 18-34, SmackDown drew a 0.65 rating, second to the NBA's 0.87 but ahead of everything else on the networks. 

Overall viewership, which is almost always in last place on the networks, trailed the basketball game but beat everything else on the networks, which was all repeat programming.