Business Publication Predicts Big Change For WWE SmackDown In 2023

The end of 2022 is quickly approaching quickly and with a new year, as usual, comes expectations of change. Sports Business Journal, for one, takes a look at the year ahead and attempts to predict what changes will come in the future, and currently has its eyes on WWE. The company was recently featured as a result of its pending television rights negotiations, which are set to take place in April, right around the time of WrestleMania 39 in Los Angeles

SBJ believes that WWE's longest-running weekly program, "WWE Raw," as well as their developmental program "WWE NXT" will remain on the USA Network for the foreseeable future. However, big changes for "SmackDown," which currently airs each Friday night on Fox, could be on the horizon. "SmackDown" is predicted to switch homes with NBCUniversal securing the show's broadcast rights over Fox. It would then shift to one of NBC's channels, possibly USA Network or something more accessible like NBC itself. This will also largely affect WWE's negotiations on their Peacock deal when those rights once again come up at the end of 2024.

Perhaps more intriguing is how this could play into the overall future of WWE and where NBCU sits in all of it. SBJ presents the idea that the upcoming deals between the two companies could very well lay the groundwork for NBCU to acquire WWE in its entirety in the years to come. Speculation about a possible WWE sale has certainly picked up in recent years, and the future of WWE programming and where it lives is sure to add more fuel to that fire as we await what changes might occur for "NXT," "Raw," and "SmackDown" in 2023.

WWE has appeared to have a positive relationship with Fox since the rights to "SmackDown" were first secured by the network for an October 2019 debut. Past reports indicated that WWE was willingly moving stars to "SmackDown" when Fox executives were requesting them, like Charlotte Flair and Bray Wyatt. But, as we've long seen play out, this is show business, not show friends, and WWE will make the best financial deal for the company in the end.