WWE ‘Smackdown’ Up for Grabs as NBCUniversal Moves to Lock Down ‘Raw’

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It’s all up for grabs, according to reports.  WWE’s Smackdown is being shopped to various networks after NBCUniversal — whose USA Network airs the highly rated pro wrestling matches — declined to re-up its deal. NBCU is said to be focusing on renewing its pact for WWE’s Raw, another wrestling franchise, and that deal is expected to close at as much as three times its current value. NBCU and WWE declined to comment on the still-ongoing negotiation. Fox has been speculated as a home for Smackdown, sources say.

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NBCU scored rights to Smackdown — the second-longest-running weekly episodic program in U.S. TV history — in 2010. At the time, the company is said to have paid $30 million for rights to the franchise. The show began airing that year on Syfy, with corporate sibling USA heavily promoting it. Smackdown moved full time to USA in January 2016, as the cable network home to Mr. Robot and The Sinner aired all three WWE shows: Smackdown, Raw and Tough Enough. It marked the first time that the top three shows were broadcast on the same network. Smackdown started airing live in May 2016, increasing the value for advertising during the wrestling show. At the time, USA aired five hours of live WWE programming a week; WWE programming currently airs two nights a week on USA. (Raw aired solo on USA from 2005 to 2016.)

 

Smackdown, which still boasts the sixth biggest audience among cable originals (including news programming), enters the open market as sports and sports entertainment (WWE wrestling is staged) programming has been fetching a premium given the live tune-in that comes with it.

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  WWE
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