The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap, and ESPN’s Darren Rovell in one way or another broke the story earlier today of WWE and FOX coming to an agreement for the rights to Smackdown Live. Smackdown will go to big FOX and reportedly move to Friday nights. The reported contract is a five year deal worth around $1 billion dollars total. Assuming all the reports are true, this is major news for the business and the network. Let’s break it down the best we can.
WWE and NBCUniversal have a contract that expires in October 2019. NBCUniveral wanted to focus it’s money and time on the flagship show of WWE, Monday Night Raw. Raw has aired on USA, part of NBCU, from 1993-2000 then 2005 to now. Earlier this month, it was reported that NBCU and WWE came to an agreement to keep RAW on USA at roughly three times the current price. Smackdown rights became open to negotiation.
The one DVR proof show on TV today is sports. Fox is seeming to realize that live sports programming will get the ratings that a reality show or scripted drama can not. Yes, WWE is scripted drama but for this purpose we are focusing on the Sports in the Sports Entertainment. Via Outkick the Coverage, Fox will have Thursday Night Football, WWE Smackdown, College Football, and NFL Thursday through Sunday. That’s a big amount of time and money dedicated to sports programming.
GOOD FOR WWE?
You better believe it. Just the American TV deals will be worth roughly 450 million per year between Raw and Smackdown. Does NXT end up on USA or FS1? This is great news for Vince McMahon. He has this deal in place well in advance of the current contract expiring. Vince can now focus on the XFL and maybe find a TV home for that product as well. WWE stock has soared since the story of the TV deals broke. Via The Comeback, stock is up to near $60 right now. Last year at this time stock was near $20.
GOOD FOR FANS?
TBD. Smackdown has been taped or live on Tuesdays to accommodate the crazy travel schedule WWE demands. Once we went live with Smackdown, there is no way we can go back to tape delay. I doubt FOX paid for taped programming. WWE has time to adjust the travel and TV schedule to make sure we stay live on Friday nights.
This is good for the fans that like a break between shows. However, the reality is people don’t watch TV on Friday nights. We as fans have to decide between night time plans and Smackdown Live.
This doesn’t help the fans upset with the product now. The money is in the bank. There is no reason to make more entertaining shows on Fridays, or Mondays for that matter, when the check is being cashed.
I think these new television contracts are great for the company. I’m skeptical to see how it works out for the fans. Ultimately, WWE will always do…. what’s best for business.
photo via howstuffworks