WWE’s ‘Smackdown’ moving from Fox to USA Network in new rights deal with NBCUniversal
WWE’s popular television show, “Friday Night Smackdown,” will be moving from Fox to USA Network next year under a new five-year domestic media rights partnership with NBCUniversal.
“Smackdown,” a weekly two-hour live program that features wrestlers such as Roman Reigns, Charlotte Flair, Rey Mysterio and Bianca Belair, regularly performs strongly in the key 18-49 demographic. It’s also experienced strong ratings of late with regular appearances by John Cena and an unadvertised appearance by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
“Smackdown” will begin airing on USA Network in October 2024. Fox had a five-year deal for “Smackdown” that started in October 2019. Prior to that, “Smackdown” had aired on USA Network from 2016 to 2019.
Financial terms of the deal between WWE and NBCUniversal were not disclosed.
As part of the agreement, WWE will also produce four prime-time specials per year that will air on NBC, starting in the 2024/2025 season. This will be the first time that WWE will air on the network in prime time.
“NBCUniversal has been a tremendous partner of WWE for decades,” WWE President Nick Khan said in a statement on Thursday. “We are excited to extend this long-standing relationship by bringing SmackDown to USA Network on Friday nights and look forward to debuting multiple WWE special events annually on NBC.”
USA Network currently airs “WWE NXT” and “WWE Monday Night Raw.” The two programs will continue to be broadcast on the network through September 2024.
“It’s a privilege and thrill to continue NBCU’s decadeslong partnership with WWE which has helped cement USA Network’s consistent position as the top-rated cable entertainment network in live viewership,” Frances Berwick, chairman of NBCUniversal Entertainment, said.
WWE is now part of TKO Group Holdings Inc., which started trading on the New York Stock Exchange last week.
Endeavor Group Holdings Inc. has closed on its previously announced deal with World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. The pairing of WWE with the company that runs Ultimate Fighting Championship creates a $21.4 billion sports entertainment company.