Update (May 21, 2018:) Fox and WWE have agreed in principle to bring WWE SmackDown Live to FOX Network TV in the Fall of 2019, per Darren Rovell of ESPN.
Original Article below:
It looks like WWE Raw isn’t going to be leaving USA Network for the foreseeable future if Wednesday’s news is any indication.
The Comcast-owned television company, NBCUniversal, according to sources close to The Hollywood Reporter have indicated that they have made moves to try and secure a multi-year deal with Vincent K. McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment to keep WWE Raw – the longest running episodic program in U.S. television history – at close to three times its current value. According to THR, the weekly professional wrestling program – which features former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and #1 Contender for the Raw Women’s Championship Ronda Rousey and former UFC Heavyweight Champion and reigning WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar – is the apparent focus of NBCU’s efforts to keep the WWE in the company’s family.
Where does this leave WWE Smackdown Live? According to those same sources, the “House that (WWE Champion) A.J. Styles Built” is going to be left up for open bidding by other networks. Fox, who in January scored a massive five-year, $550 million per year deal for the rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football, is being speculated as a home for Smackdown Live. Both Smackdown Live and WWE Raw boast huge numbers for the USA Network, with Raw consistently taking the #1 cable primetime slot, and Smackdown Live boasting the sixth largest audience among cable originals (including news programming.) At current, WWE programming takes 5 hours of USA Network’s programming slots over two nights (Raw on Mondays, Smackdown Live on Tuesdays.)
In addition, CBS Sports reported that there is speculation that FOX wasn’t just in the business of picking up Smackdown Live by itself, as the network wants to pick up Raw as well for FOX on Broadcast TV, with the Tuesday night show going to Fox Sports 1.
From our end, [we don’t think] it’s an issue to split it. We have done it before. We think we’re pretty good at promoting and moving our viewers from one platform to another. Seven or eight years ago, it was only from one network to another network, which changed dramatically.
- WWE chief financial officer George Barrios earlier this week when asked about Raw and Smackdown airing on differrent networks.
If the Blue show was to be picked up by Fox, Smackdown could end up joining Fox’s massive live sports empire, which currently also features the UFC (whose digital rights now belong to Disney via ESPN+,) Major League Baseball as well as the aforementioned NFL. This also means that WWE Raw will probably continue to be three hours long. WWE’s final decision on the deal is reportedly planned to be announced sometime during the summer.
We at the Outerhaven will reach out to both World Wrestling Entertainment as well as NBCUniversal and update this article with any relevant information related to this story.