MyNetwork's president says as much in an interview with TVWeek. They're going with movies on Thursday nights instead, which seems to say they don't think MyNetwork can compete on that night and want to aim SmackDown at the softer Friday schedule.
Long term, the story is MyNetwork's support of WWE and it's role on the network.
TVWeek: Will MyNetwork be a player in other types of sports entertainment in the future? Mr. Meidel: We look at all of these franchises. This is an entertainment show that involves sports, but what we loved about the WWE is that itís a huge franchise, and itís built-in brand recognition. We think itíll help us continue to build out these other nights. If we were able to find some other franchise that is this big, we would be very interested. But there are very few out there, and very few become available, and thatís why we took advantage of this opportunity. Iíll say this sounds corny but this is our NFL.
WWE seems safe for as long as MyNetwork stays alive.
If you look at it, WCW hit it's peak in the summer of '97 with the Luger win over Hogan in Detroit in the first 3 hour Nitro. The WWF's bottom was in winter '96/spring '97, and they had begun to steady the ship even as WCW was peaking.