It was earlier reported that WWE SmackDown will be parting ways with NBCUniversal once the current deal expires in September 2019. Among the three major players competing to lay their hands on the SmackDown franchise, FOX seems to have reportedly bagged the blue brand’s show courtesy of a massive money deal with WWE.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, FOX has inked the SmackDown deal with WWE for 5 years at a record $1 billion ($205 million approx. annually). The reported sum is way above what WWE is currently getting for both Monday Night RAW and SmackDown Live combined as part of its existing deal with NBCUniversal.
The new WWE-FOX deal which is nearing completion and is expected to commence on October 2019, will mark a three-fold increase over what NBCUniversal is currently paying WWE to air SmackDown on its USA Network. Although reports claim that WWE had received a higher bid from either of the other competitors namely Amazon or Facebook, the wrestling giants closed the deal with FOX because of the network’s commitment to heavily promote SmackDown across their programming that include NFL and Major League Baseball.
NBCUniversal will retain Monday Night RAW as part of its new deal with WWE at three times the current value. SmackDown, which was earlier called “The B Show”, gained in popularity after it began to air live in May 2016, thus increasing the value for advertising during the show.
SmackDown still holds the record for having the sixth-biggest audience among cable originals (including news and programming).