Smackdown is moving to FOX in October 2019!
With UFC splitting live-fights with ESPN until 2017 ends, FOX had to make a major move for something exclusive. The channel wasn’t likely to land a major boxing promotion, since ESPN also acquired Top Rank – along with Al Haymon’s PBC Boxing refusing to be exclusive to one network.
However, the Los Angeles based company has officially inked WWE to a $1 billion-dollar deal for their Smackdown series. Under the new contract, WWE will move Smackdown from Tuesdays, to air on Friday nights beginning October 2019 (presumably live). The deal is worth $205 million annually, which is three times as much NBC Universal is paying them on the USA Network.
While WWE RAW is expected to stay put on USA Network for now, this is an eye-raiser for NBC, who originally snubbed them in contract negotiations – prior to FOX stepping in. It’s unclear if Monday Night RAW will stay on USA past this next contract. However, a live TV audience and network channels desperate to maintain cord-cutters is something to watch. It’s developmental program, NXT, which aired on USA Network last holiday, scored a solid one million viewers.
This could be taken into account, with FOX’s subsidiaries FS1 and FS2 also losing out on UFC content by the year’s end. The WWE Network is still home to their NXT and 205 series; and most of all, live pay-per-view events. So, whether or not NXT joins Smackdown under the FOX umbrella remains to be seen; but this is one series that will never get cancelled by any network.
Look for possible more information to emerge early next year on this move.