The WWE made its deal with Fox Sports for “SmackDown” official on Tuesday, while renewing its longstanding partnership with USA Network for “Monday Night Raw.”
Both agreements are for five years. “Smackdown” will air Friday nights on Fox beginning Oct. 4, 2019 and remain two hours in length.
“WWE and Fox are a perfect match,” said Vince McMahon, WWE chairman & CEO. “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.”
This won’t be “SmackDown’s” first time on broadcast — the 19-year-old show used to air on UPN, then The CW, then MyNetworkTV, before heading to NBCUniversal’s Syfy and, ultimately, USA. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though TheWrap previously reported that the five-year deal could be worth as much as $1 billion.
“At Fox we are thrilled to welcome WWE to the Fox Sports family and bring ‘SmackDown Live’ to broadcast television,” said Eric Shanks, President, COO and executive producer, Fox Sports. “We are huge fans and know that together Fox Sports will be the leader in live events for the foreseeable future.”
This coming fall TV season, Fox broadcast will air the following from 8-10:
8-8:30: “Last Man Standing”
8:30-9: “The Cool Kids”
9-10: “Hell’s Kitchen”
Should those series return for the 2019-2020 season, they’ll need to find a new night, it seems.
The three-hour “Raw” has aired on USA since 1993, with McMahon adding that “‘Monday Night Raw’ has been synonymous with USA Network.”
The pricey rights to the two most popular weekly professional wrestling shows have been on the auctioneer’s block for a few months now. Simultaneously, those platforms interested in live sporting events and a young male demo have also been bidding on UFC packages.
“‘Monday Night Raw’ and USA Network have dominated Monday nights during a truly historic run,” said Chris McCumber, president, entertainment networks for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “Our partnership with WWE is one of the strongest and most successful in the business, and together we’ll take ‘Raw’ to even greater heights.”