With ESPN set to add UFC to its lineup, it only made sense that FOX Sports follow suit by adding WWE SmackDown Live to its schedule.
Vince McMahon and FOX Sports 1 struck a five-year deal north of $1 billion, which will give the network the rights to broadcast SmackDown Live beginning in October 2019.
Last week, NBCUniversal declined to re-bid for SmackDown, which has aired on cable channels since 2010. NBCU is expected to keep Raw, which airs Monday nights on USA. The Hollywood Reporter says this may cost the company three times the $80 million a year it currently pays.
FOX plans to air SmackDown Live on Friday nights at 8pm EST. There were rumors about the show expanding to three hours, similar to its Monday night counterpart, but it appears the show will stick with its two-hour format.
Adding wrestling to its portfolio gives FOX a counterbalance to NBC’s hit sports-and-entertainment hybrid, American Ninja Warrior, as well as makes up for the hit they will take by losing UFC.
FOX might also be in the running to acquire rights to McMahon’s XFL football league TV rights as well.