NBCUniversal May Drop WWE Smackdown Live From Its TV Schedule

WWE Could Be In A Bidding War For 'Smackdown Live' While 'Raw' Gets Big Renewal

WWE Could Be In A Bidding War For 'Smackdown Live' While 'Raw' Gets Big Renewal

FOX is the current home of the UFC, which is also looking to renew its TV rights and just signed a streaming deal with ESPN+.

The belief was that WWE could end up on FOX and if that did happen then Monday Night Raw would go to FOX while SmackDown Live would go to FOX Sports 1. SmackDown has only aired on US for about two years, moving over on January 7, 2016.

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With television rights for live sports and entertainment in a boom period, it had always been reported that WWE planned to cash in when its contract with NBCUniversal, which presently airs both Raw on Monday nights and SmackDown Live on Tuesday nights, expires in 2019.

Different networks can have distinct viewerships. WWE has talked with the USA Network, FOX, Disney, CBS, Amazon, and YouTube.

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While that sounds like a problem for WWE, it's more of an embarassment of riches.

WWE's deal with USA / NBC expires on September 30, 2019, and they are now in an exclusive negotiating period with each other until the end of this spring. NBCU had paid $30 million for the SmackDown franchise in 2010. It marked the first time that the top three shows were broadcast on the same network. The program now airs live every Tuesday from 8-10 p.m. WWE programming is an obvious fit for the "new Fox" focused on sports and live events and SmackDown could anchor Fox programming on Tuesday nights. The show now garners the sixth-biggest audience among cable originals. By airing on broadcast television every week, WWE could be motivated to stack SmackDown as much as possible.

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