WWE and Fox officially announced on Tuesday that SmackDown Live will move to the broadcast network in October of 2019.
The deal will be for five years, and the show will move back to Friday nights (it’s currently airing on Tuesday nights on USA Network). According to a press release, the broadcast on Fox will be a two-hour live broadcast. Previously, when SmackDown aired on Friday nights, the show was taped on Tuesday nights and aired on a tape delay.
When WWE moves SmackDown to Fox, the network will also be airing Thursday Night Football from the NFL the night before. According to multiple reports, the ability for Fox to cross-promote the WWE with the NFL was a huge selling point.
“WWE and FOX are a perfect match,” said Vince McMahon “Moving ‘SmackDown Live’ to broadcast TV and having the ability to leverage FOX’s extensive portfolio of world-class sporting events will expand the reach of our flagship programming.”
Multiple reports say that Fox is going to pay WWE $205 million per year for SmackDown, which is more than triple its current price tag with NBC Universal.
The deal has been in the works for more than a month, and leaked in May. WWE shares were up 15 percent on Wednesday after the press release was issued.
NBC Universal will retain rights to Monday Night Raw on USA Network, continuing to air the show live on Monday nights. The total price tag on the Fox and NBC deals are more than three times what WWE was currently receiving from NBC for both programs.
“We are huge fans and know that together Fox Sports will be the leader in live events for the foreseeable future,” said Fox Sports president Eric Shanks.
There have also been rumors that Fox could add a weekly talk show or recap show on its Fox Sports 1 cable network.