May 25, 2006
ECW back on TVSci-Fi to host new WWE program
By SLAM! Wrestling
Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, Ghost Hunters, Who Wants to be a Superhero? ... a little blood and guts from Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) will fit right in.
WWE and the SCI FI Channel announced Thursday that an ECW TV program will debut on the U.S. cable channel on Tuesday, June 13th, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The commitment is just for the summer.
"Research tells us that there's a healthy appetite for wrestling among SCI FI viewers," said Bonnie Hammer, President, USA and SCI FI Channel in a press release. "With ECW, we're able to deliver to those fans unique action with a twist that's perfect for SCI FI."
"This is going to be a great summer series for us," Hammer told the Hollywood Reporter. "Close to 50% who watch 'Raw' watch Sci Fi as well."
Perhaps alarming ECW purists, Vince McMahon won't be promoting ECW as the hardcore wrestling that it was in its first incarnation -- it's still "sports entertainment."
"ECW on SCI FI will push the boundaries of sports entertainment in new and unexpected ways," said WWE chairman McMahon in the same press release.
In a separate press release, McMahon explained that ECW will be the third WWE "brand", along with Raw and Smackdown.
"After keeping the ECW concept alive and creating an enormous cult-like following for all things ECW from DVDs to PPVs to books, we feel that now the time is right to officially launch ECW as its own stand-alone franchise," said McMahon. "RAW, SmackDown and ECW now represent a portfolio of WWE brands for fans of all ages and interests to enjoy."
The launch of the ECW program brings the former rebel league back to television for the first time since 2001. The independent group had been on The Nashville Network (now SpikeTV) at the turn of the millennium, but was removed from programming just prior to folding. McMahon later purchased the rights to ECW.
Since the ECW purchase, WWE has utilized the ECW video library for two successful DVD releases (The Rise and Fall of ECW and Bloodsport: ECW's Most Violent Matches) and has also begun an annual pay-per-view, ECW One Night Stand, the second of which will take place on June 11, just two days prior to the launch of the new ECW TV show. An ECW vs. WWE television special has also been announced for the month of June on the USA Network.
At this time, no Canadian station has been announced as a carrier for the new ECW series, nor for the ECW vs. WWE special. Negotiations are under way, said a WWE Canada spokesperson.
The SCI FI Channel launched in 1992 and is currently in 85 million homes. It is a network of NBC Universal.