UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter has additional information on the deal, reporting that it is a five-year deal worth over $1 billion. That would break down to $205 million per year to broadcast SmackDown, which was not even the highest bid the WWE received. THR adds they received a larger bid but opted to align themselves with Fox, who can heavily promote the show across their major sports properties.
A deal between the WWE and Fox is expected to be announced following Monday’s reports that big Fox will become the new home of SmackDown.
Darren Rovell at ESPN reported that a deal is expected between the two entities that would see the WWE’s Tuesday night program leave the USA Network to move to Fox following the WWE’s existing deal with NBC Universal. The current deal with NBC Universal expires in the fall of 2019.
There was an additional report from Tony Maglio of The Wrap, confirming the move to Fox and adding that the show would be moving to Friday nights on Fox when it launches in October 2019.
There are many questions that linger from this announcement from the amount being paid by Fox, the production element if they are moving to Friday nights whether this will continue as a live broadcast or revert to a taped format, and the length of the deal. It would be premature to speculate on any of the deal points as this is a story with a huge ripple effect to the WWE’s business and the outlook for the foreseeable future.
Fox and the WWE are not commenting on the story.
Last week, The Hollywood Reporter covered the WWE’s ongoing domestic negotiations with a report that NBC Universal was looking to renew Raw at “three times its current value” while placing SmackDown on the open market.
The WWE’s pending deal with Fox comes in the final year of the network’s seven-year pact with the UFC. It was reported earlier this year by John Ourand at Sports Business Journal, that Fox made an offer in the range of $200 million per year to the UFC and would likely be the floor for the UFC’s upcoming domestic television rights deal.
Fox recently spent $3.3 billion on the rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package over five-years and begins with the upcoming season. In addition to the NFL, Fox is also involved in rights deals with Major League Baseball, NASCAR, and Major League Soccer.