WWE SmackDown Live Reportedly Heading To A New Network

Carla Harmon
May 17, 2018

Now that Barrios is talking about working with more than one company, I wouldn't be surprised if Raw is on FOX and SmackDown remains on USA Network next fall.

With television rights for live sports and entertainment in a boom period, it had always been reported that WWE planned to cash in when its contract with NBCUniversal, which presently airs both Raw on Monday nights and SmackDown Live on Tuesday nights, expires in 2019. According to the Hollywood Reporter, NBC Universal is reportedly set to pay a big increase to continue airing Raw. As such, WWE would potentially want to tailor SmackDown Live for a new demographic, which in turn could mean Raw and SmackDown Live adopting identities specific to their respective networks.

NBCU and WWE declined to comment on the negotiations, which are still-ongoing.

Reportedly, NBCUniversal paid $30 million for the rights to Smackdown Live in 2010, but the deal in 2019 would have been way more expensive.

This might mean SmackDown Live could be up for grabs soon and might wind up on an entirely different network. It marked the first time that the top three shows were broadcast on the same network. While the show has remained on Monday nights, it started as an hour-long program before moving to two hours and now three hours, airing from 8-11 p.m. ET. At the time, U.S. aired five hours of live WWE programming a week; WWE programming now airs two nights a week on USA.

The Fox connection has been in the conversation for months now with there even being rumor and innuendo that Fox could try to buy WWE outright. Thus, WWE will have to find a new home for SmackDown Live.

If it does play out this way, it's a dream scenario for WWE. Back in 2012, Major League Baseball, Fox Sports Media Group and Turner Broadcasting entered an eight-year national media rights deal for postseason games said to be worth $12.4 billion.

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