WWE Deals With Fox ('SmackDown Live'), USA Net ('Monday Night Raw') Top $3B
Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 09:20PM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Fox Sports, Monday Night Raw, SmackDown, USA Network, WWE, WWE, sports media

By Barry Janoff

June 26, 2018: Sometimes, partners need to go their separate ways in order to grow.

That is what WWE appears to be doing with its duo of SmackDown Live and Monday Night Raw, encompassing more than $3 billion in media deals.

Fox Sports today confirmed reports that, every Friday night beginning Oct. 4, 2019, Fox network would be the new home for WWE’s SmackDown Live under a five-year deal.

Concurrently, USA Network, which has aired SmackDown since January 2016 and will remain its home until the Fox deal kicks in, said it was renewing Monday Night Raw, which debuted on the network in January 1993.

The deal is also for five years.

Financial terms were not disclosed for either deal, but was put at just over $200 million per year for SmackDown Live and about $400 million annually for Monday Night Raw by industry analysts.

USA Network aired Monday Night Raw from its inception in January 1993 through September 2000, when it moved to TNN/Spike TV before returning to USA Network in October 2006.

WWE said the the shift of SmackDown from cable to broadcast would help expand its audience.

“WWE and Fox are a perfect match,” Vince McMahon, WWE chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Moving SmackDown Live to broadcast TV and having the ability to leverage Fox’ extensive portfolio of world-class sporting events will expand the reach of our flagship programming.”

Fox Sports has been focusing on what it intends to be new programming mainstays.

Earlier this year it acquired rights to Thursday Night Football in a multi-year deal with the NFL.

“At Fox we are thrilled to welcome WWE to the Fox Sports family and bring SmackDown Live to broadcast television,” Eric Shanks, president, COO and executive producer Fox Sports, said in a statement. “We are huge fans and know that together Fox Sports will be the leader in live events for the foreseeable future.”

According to WWE, Smackdown Live, is closing in on 1,000 episodes and is the “second-longest running weekly episodic cable television show in U.S. prime time history” behind only Monday Night Raw.

Monday Night Raw has aired more than 1,300 episodes.

Keeping Monday Night Raw on USA Network was seen as a no-brainer for parent company NBCUniversal.

Monday Night Raw and USA Network have dominated Monday nights during a truly historic run,” Chris McCumber, president, Entertainment Networks for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, said in a statement.

“Our partnership with WWE is one of the strongest and most successful in the business, and together we’ll take Raw to even greater heights.”

“We look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with NBCUniversal and USA Network,” said McMahon. “Monday Night Raw has been synonymous with USA Network and we are excited about what the future holds for WWE’s flagship program.”

WWE said that SmackDown Live has helped to launch the careers of such stars as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Cena, Undertaker, Triple H, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Bella Twins.

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