WWE has another outlet to air their programming with SmackDown Live after reaching an agreement with FOX.
[Update – 5 pm] According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal is worth $1 billion for five years. The show would move to Friday’s.
There are not much specifics other than the deal will begin on October 2019, according to ESPN. A WWE representative declined to comment at the moment, while a FOX representative could not immediately be reached.
NBC Universal on Thursday declined its right of first refusal that WWE proposed on the show. Opting for the Monday Night Raw brand, SmackDown became available for interested parties.
The show first aired in 1999 on UPN, now The CW on Thursday nights. The show then moved to NBC Universal with SyFy in 2010. The USA Network picked up the show in 2016 where WWE has enjoyed a better part of their programming history and currently airs Monday Night Raw (1993-2000, 2005-). The nights changed for SmackDown, which before was taped on Tuesdays to be broadcast for Thursday and later Friday before airing live on USA rebranding the show to SmackDown Live on Tuesdays.
The show averages 2.59 million viewers weekly while Raw averages around 3 million.
As more details come out, the remaining question remains – What FOX network will air SmackDown?
Seems less likely due to UPN abandoning wrestling after its 10-year run would make FOX reluctant to place on the regular network. Since WWE’s specializes in “sports entertainment” Fox Sports would make a natural home, but may interfere with current existing markets for other sports like baseball. The next logical choices are FX and FXX, which is about as close to USA programming as it gets and has similar reach.
What FOX network do you think should air SmackDown Live? Sound off below in the comments.