FOX CEO Gives Damning Verdict On WWE SmackDown Deal

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Lachlan Murdoch has lifted the lid on why FOX decided against renegotiating broadcast rights for WWE SmackDown.

On September 21st it was announced that WWE SmackDown would be leaving FOX and heading to the USA Network in October 2024 in a deal worth around $1.4 billion. Fox has been home to SmackDown since 2019, with the show enjoying strong ratings in 2023.

Speaking on the FOX earnings call, CEO Lachlan Murdoch confirmed the company decided against a renewal because the return on investment didn’t match its “discipline parameters.”

“How we analyze the WWE renewal, we look at all of our sports portfolios the same way and all new rights the same way. On the basis of analysis, on both advertising point of view, we weren’t hitting advertising numbers due to the audience of WWE for our return on investment to be above the level we would accept.

Also, we didn’t attribute enough retransmission revenue to WWE either. It made sense for us to move on from that. They’ve been a great partner for many years, but quite simply, we’re very disciplined, and the ROI didn’t meet our discipline parameters. We wish them luck and we’ve moved on from them,”

WWE And AEW TV Rights Negotiations Take Centre Stage

It’s been reported that while FOX might have fallen out of love with SmackDown, NBCUniversal sees WWE’s blue brand as “football proof.” As such, the company was eager to land the show.

Warner Bros Discovery contacts confirmed they expect NBCUniversal and the USA Network to bid for rights to the NBA, which has been a staple of TNT schedules for years. This in turn could affect the budget for NBCU and USA to land Raw and NXT, especially as the NBA is expecting a huge increase in rights fees in 2025/2026.

Should WBD lose the NBA, that would have an impact on their rights budget, which could influence negotiations with AEW.

H/t to Fightful