Report: Fox pays 5 year, $1 Billion Dollars for WWE’s Smackdown

May 21, 2018

Fox and WWE are close to a 5-year $1 Billion Deal for the ‘Smackdown Live’ show currently airing Tuesday night’s on NBC Universal-owned USA Network.  The deal may have ramifications with the future of the UFC’s TV deal.

First reported by ESPN’s Darren Rovell and the details provided by a report on The Hollywood Reporter, the deal is close to being complete and would pay the WWE $205 million annually and is expected to begin in October 2019.  It is 3 times what NBCUnversal currently pays to air the two-hour weekly show on the USA network.

Unlike its last television rights deal, there seems to be more of an appetite for the company’s content as The Hollywood Reporter notes that there is an even higher bid from a third party.  But, the WWE chose Fox as it will commit to promoting Smackdown in its sports portfolio which includes MLB and NFL.

The WWE’s anchor show, Raw, will remain with NBCUniversal’s USA Network.

During the upfront presentation to advertisers last week, the WWE introduced Ronda Rousey which was likely spurred interest in the package.

NBCUniversal has had SmackDown since 2010 and reportedly paid $30 million for the franchise.

As a result of the news, WWE stock has jumped up to $57.87 as of 4:01pm EDT, up almost 12.5%, which is outstanding as it trades near its 52 week high.

Payout Perspective:

Rousey is currently on the Raw brand although it’s clear she’ll likely switch to SmackDown to be on Fox starting in October.  The deal likely has some impact on whether the UFC renews with Fox.  While it has forged a digital package with ESPN’s new OTT platform, the TV deal still remains up in the air.  If Fox is willing to spend $205 million annually for the WWE, will it still open up its bank account for the UFC?  The likely play is that the programming is similar and the UFC will now look elsewhere and perhaps the unnamed highest bidder that the WWE has turned down.

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