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WWE SmackDown ratings return to normal without Vince McMahon

Tuesday night's episode of SmackDown on the USA Network averaged 2.51 million viewers and was down nine percent from the previous week. The show was sixth for the night on cable in terms of total viewers but second in the 18-49 demo with a 0.74 rating, trailing only American Horror Story on FX.

However, this week's number was up nearly 10 percent over the same week in 2016. That's the third straight week that SmackDown has had a year-over-year ratings increase, which is a good sign in a year that has seen the NFL, typically a ratings juggernaut, suffering ratings declines early in the season.

SmackDown retained almost 90 percent of the Raw audience from the night before. During last year's NFL season, that number was usually between 85 and 90 percent and fell about five percent during the offseason.

With the start of the broadcast TV season next week, and with CBS, ABC, and NBC all airing shows with audiences typically in excess of 10 million viewers, SmackDown should see a decline for the next few months.

Here's a look at SmackDown numbers in 2017 and how they compare to Raw's from the same week: