UPDATE: Fox is willing to shell out a ton of money in order to get the TV rights for WWE’s Tuesday night programming, Smackdown Live. According to sources at THR, the new deal, which is nearing completion, will be for five years and cost Fox over $1 billion dollars–coming in at $205 million annually–for the right to broadcast Smackdown. Fox is reportedly committed to promoting Smackdown across its other programming, which could have crossover appeal, specifically sporting events like the MLB and NFL.
Additionally, the Tuesday night show could be moving nights. According to The Wrap, Fox’s plan is to move Smackdown to Friday nights. At this time, there has been no comment from either WWE or Fox about this news. The original story follows.
WWE’s TV rights have been under renegotiation this past year, with the sports entertainment giant Raw in discussions to resign with NBCUniversal, which owns the USA Network. However, WWE’s Tuesday night programming, Smackdown Live, has reportedly found a new home at Fox.
According to sources at ESPN, Fox made a large offer to WWE in order to get the rights to air Smackdown. As of this writing, there are no specifics to the deal, aside from the fact that it will begin in October 2019.
While many have speculated that if Fox picked up Smackdown, it would air on its sports network FS1, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, that is not the case. Smackdown will air on Fox. This move will only strengthen the WWE brand in the long run.
If true, both Raw and Smackdown will feel even more separated from each other, which could contribute to a rivalry between brands. Additionally, Smackdown, which doesn’t pull in as many viewers as Raw, could find a whole new audience on Fox, even pulling in brand-new WWE fans, as it is a major broadcast network. WWE will be reaching a larger audience and has a better chance of getting the attention of random channel surfers.
In the past, WWE programming has been on other networks, aside from USA. Smackdown appeared on MyNetwork TV, UPN, CW, and Syfy network, and Raw had a five year run on TNN–which later became Spike TV. So splitting the brands between networks isn’t a new thing; however, this is the first time in the company’s history that both shows will be airing live while on different networks.