If you think broadcast television doesn’t have the same pop that it used to have, think again.
WWE and Fox networks have officially closed a five-year deal to broadcast SmackDown Live on Fox Broadcasting beginning next year.
As part of the new deal, RAW will remain on the USA Network but Smackdown LIVE is headed to Fox, where it will now air on Friday nights as opposed to its current Tuesday evening slot.
— WWE (@WWE) June 26, 2018
According to MarketWatch, the five-year deal with Comcast’s NBCUniversal and 21st Century Fox will more than triple the annual value of WWE’s U.S. distribution rights, increasing it by 3.6 times. WWE did not specify how much the contract is worth, but they did reveal that core content revenue is expected to grow about $331 million in 2019 and $462 million by 2021, up from roughly $235 million in 2018.
“WWE and FOX are a perfect match,” said Vince McMahon, WWE chairman and chief executive. “Moving SmackDown Live to broadcast TV and having the ability to leverage FOX’s extensive portfolio of world-class sporting events will expand the reach of our flagship programming.”
On air for almost 20 years and nearly 1,000 episodes, SmackDown Live is the second-longest-running weekly episodic cable television show in U.S. prime-time history, behind only WWE’s Monday Night Raw.
What does that mean for you, the sports fan? You will be seeing a lot of promotion and possibly cross-promotion of SmackDown Live during FOX’s coverage of the NFL, college football, MLB, and college basketball. USA Network’s promotion of Raw and SmackDown Live did not equate to FOX, so the WWE has a great opportunity here to expose itself to many new audiences.
Smackdown Live will begin airing on Fox starting Friday, October 4, 2,019 as part of the new five-year agreement.