Monday, 21 May, 2018

NBCUniversal May Drop WWE Smackdown Live From Its TV Schedule

Sources say the franchise will now go to open bidding as NBCU will keep 'Raw.' Courtesy of USA Network
Stacy Diaz | 17 May, 2018, 12:43

Fox is listed in the story as a potential home for Smackdown, though it's unstated whether it would be the Fox broadcast network or a seemingly more likely Fox cable network such as FS1.

WWE's television future took an interesting turn on Wednesday, as NBCUniversal reportedly declined to re-up its current deal for SmackDown Live in an attempt to keep Monday Night Raw.

WWE Raw looks set to remain on the USA Network after the company's current set of TV rights expire in September 2019, but the same can't be said for SmackDown. WWE programming is an obvious fit for the "new Fox" focused on sports and live events and SmackDown could anchor Fox programming on Tuesday nights.

WWE's deal with USA / NBC expires on September 30, 2019, and they are now in an exclusive negotiating period with each other until the end of this spring.

The last time WWE negotiated a new rights deal in 2014, the company chose to re-sign with NBC Universal to continue airing Raw and SmackDown on USA Network and SyFy respectively. NBCU had paid $30 million for the SmackDown franchise in 2010. The show now garners the sixth-biggest audience among cable originals. 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.