As reported, FOX has reached an agreement to acquire SmackDown Live to join their programming. This comes off the heels of NBC Universal maintaining their partnership with WWE after their contract ended in September 2019, but only keeping Raw as a part of the deal.
According to The Wrap, the deal between WWE and FOX will also result in a change of day that SmackDown will be aired, which will be Fridays, according to a source with knowledge of the deal. In addition to FOX, SmackDown has also been aired since its series debut in 1999 on UPN, The CW, MyNetworkTV, and SyFy. Past incarnations of SmackDown have been aired on both Thursdays and Fridays.
For the first time ever, SmackDown moved exclusively to Tuesday nights on July 19, 2016 to help promote their move to USA at the beginning of the year, as well as the brand split. The name of the show was then changed to SmackDown Live.
The current FOX 2018 lineup for Friday has Last Man Standing airing from 8-8:30, The Cool Kids at 8:30-9, and Hell’s Kitchen from 9-10, so those shows would have to find a new night with the new deal.
For many years, WWE taped SmackDown on Tuesday nights to assist with their production scheduling, along with their WWE live event schedule. Per this report, there is no information on whether it will stay live. The SmackDown crew works live events from Saturday – Monday with television on Tuesday.
Regarding the terms of the deal, The Hollywood Reporter reports that it is a five-year agreement worth more than $1 billion, $205 million annually. This is a three-fold increase to what NBC Universal is currently paying for the blue brand on USA. There was even a bigger offer from another party, but WWE agreed to partner with FOX due to the company’s ability to heavily promote the product across a platform with other sports including NFL and MLB.
Averaging at 2.59 million viewers a week, SmackDown Live is still the sixth most watched original program on cable television.
Doreen contributed to this article.