Could WWE SmackDown be looking for a new home?
The times are changing in WWE with the takeover by Endeavor set to go through on September 12th when the New York Stock Exchange opens bringing an end to forty years of majority ownership for Vince McMahon.
At a time of great uncertainty in the company as a whole, it seems its biggest show is also in a state of flux with SmackDown possibly on its way off FOX’s schedules.
Speaking on Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer broke down where all of WWE’s TV properties are likely to end up after the latest negotiations in the US and suggests that Disney and Amazon are leading the charge for the blue brand:
“Something else also, when Garrett and I were talking on Friday about Disney being interested in SmackDown on Friday. The belief is that Raw and NXT will probably stay with USA although WWE is looking for a huge increase in price for both of those shows, especially Raw, obviously from 465 to 700 [million].
“As far as SmackDown goes, time will tell. There’s a feeling that FOX is not going to go for the 300 [million], which is what WWE is trying to get out of Smackdown or more, and that Disney and Amazon are probably the two companies most in contention for it. And if it’s Disney, I brought up ABC or probably FX.
“It’s not out of the realm of possibility that it could be on ABC, but ABC on Fridays, they have had 2020 and Shark Tank, which is actually a pretty highly rated show. And even though it’s not as highly rated as Smackdown most weeks now, I mean, it was before, but lately, it has not been. It still fetches higher ad rates for ABC than Smackdown would.
“So because of that, it doesn’t necessarily make the most sense for ABC, even though Smackdown has been absolutely killing it. When it comes to Friday night network television, for them to necessarily make that change, I hadn’t really heard people talking about it on ABC, just the possibility that it could be. The other thing, too, is they could change nights.
“They’re not married to Friday. They’re on Friday because FOX wanted them on Friday. If you remember, they were on Tuesday for a long time. They’d been on Thursday, they’d been on, basically on the night that the network that owns the rights wants them to be on.
“So perhaps there’s another night that ABC would want them or perhaps they want them to boost FOX, which they will boost greatly because it’s the number one show on a weekly basis when it comes to cable, on a year-round basis, 52 weeks a year. I mean, it’s not always number one. I mean, obviously, football is always going to beat it. Big sports events will always beat it. But it’s a steady performer. It’ll be a steady performer week in and week out.”
When did WWE SmackDown first air on FOX?
In June 2018, a five-year, billion-dollar deal was announced between WWE and FOX to bring SmackDown to network television. The first edition of SmackDown to air on FOX came on October 4th, 2019, and infamously saw Brock Lesnar dethrone Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship in just 7 seconds. That was Lesnar’s first match on free-to-air television in WWE since March 2004 and the only one of his second run in the company.
Prior to joining the FOX lineup, SmackDown had aired on UPN, The CW, MyNetworkTV, SyFy, and USA and had been broadcast on Tuesday and Thursday nights in addition to its current Friday night slot.