NBCUniversal May Drop WWE Smackdown Live From Its TV Schedule

May 18, 2018, 14:01
NBCUniversal May Drop WWE Smackdown Live From Its TV Schedule

WWE's contract with NBCU is set to expire in September 2019.

The Hollywood Reporter reports that WWE SmackDown is now being shopped around to various networks as NBCUniversal has declined to renew the deal for the USA Network.

NBCUni snagged the rights to SmackDown back in 2010. At the time, the company is said to have paid $30 million for rights to the franchise. Initially airing on SyFy, they moved SD to United States of America full time in January 2016, but while it now boasts the sixth biggest audience among original cable shows, the blue brand will likely be ditched in favour of keeping Raw. It marked the first time that the top three shows were broadcast on the same network. Due to the heavy increase in price, NBC Universal is reportedly not re-signing its deal to carry WWE's Smackdown. It first aired on SyFy before moving to U.S. in 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.

If the Blue show was to be picked up by Fox, Smackdown could end up joining Fox's massive live sports empire, which currently also features the UFC (whose digital rights now belong to Disney via ESPN+,) Major League Baseball as well as the aforementioned NFL.

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