Major Financial Company Predicts Major Losses For FOX In WWE SmackDown Deal

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A major financial institution took a closer look at Fox’s deal with WWE to air Smackdown and revealed that the financial losses of the deal are significant.

It was in October 2019 when Smackdown on Fox started as the beginning of a five-year deal that expires in September 2024. After Smackdown spent years on smaller networks like UPN at the beginning, they were on other smaller broadcast TV channels (The CW, My Network TV), and they were moved to cable channel Syfy.

Prior to that move to Fox on Friday nights, Smackdown was called “Smackdown Live” On USA Network on Tuesday nights, which meant it was on the next night after Raw. That’s the TV slot that NXT is in now.

By putting Smackdown on Friday nights, Fox took a major risk because while Raw has been on the air since 1993 and Smackdown since 1999, neither WWE show has been on one of the “big four” American TV networks like NBC, ABC, CBS or Fox. By committing five years to WWE, Fox was hoping it was a deal that would pay off for them. However, some new information says that the deal has been extremely costly for Fox.

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter by Dave Meltzer (available via subscription) noted that Morgan Stanley looked at what Fox is paying for Smackdown and why the losses are significant.

“Morgan Stanley did an analysis for FOX on Smackdown and felt that they couldn’t justify the price tag for the show. In the 2020-21 television season, FOX paid $196.7 million on the show and ended up with $134 million in losses. In 2021-22, FOX paid $208.5 million and ended up with $145 million in losses.”

“The conclusion is that there simply are not enough wrestling fans to justify the kind of money FOX spent on the show, and that the number of viewers is not likely to change over the next two years. They estimate that losses will only get worse, with a projection of $155.6 million in losses for the 2022-23 season and $166.9 million for the 2023-24 season.”

“FOX’s deal is $221.1 million for the payment to WWE for Smackdown in 2022-23 and $234.3 million in 2023-24. But, because nothing has the reach of broadcast television, they recommended that WWE should take less money for the more exposure from broadcast over taking more money for a deal with a streaming service or a cable station.”

Tonight’s edition of Smackdown on Fox will see GUNTHER defend the Intercontinental Title against Braun Strowman while Sami Zayn will face Kevin Owens one more time.