Even though WWE got a significant raise for SmackDown television rights, it was not enough of a raise to impress the stock market.
It was reported earlier this week that starting in October 2024, WWE SmackDown will be moving from FOX to the USA Network. A return to USA Network is where SmackDown used to be prior to Fox airing the blue brand’s product since October 2019.
In addition to Smackdown returning to USA Network, which is owned by NBC Universal, a WWE press release also announced that “beginning in the 2024/25 season, WWE will produce four primetime specials per year that will air on NBC, marking the first time WWE will air on the network in primetime.”
NIck Khan, the WWE President, issued this statement about the deal.
“NBCUniversal has been a tremendous partner of WWE for decades. We are excited to extend this longstanding relationship by bringing SmackDown to USA Network on Friday nights and look forward to debuting multiple WWE special events annually on NBC.”
WWE Smackdown’s new deal is not enough to impress Wall Street
As for how much WWE received in the deal for SmackDown, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has said that Wall Street was expecting a bigger deal. This has led to the TKO stock price (representing WWE being part of Endeavor) decreasing.
“The first major shoe to fall was that Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported that Smackdown will be leaving FOX at the end of September 2024 and returning to the USA Network in a five-year deal that would end at the end of September 2029. WWE then sent out a press release to confirm the deal.”
“Neither side released the financials of the deal but the word is that they will average $287 million over the five years, a 40 percent increase over the $205 million on the FOX deal. However, this has led to a stock decline since Wall Street was expecting a minimum of $307.5 million on the deal and that number was part of the stock price.”
A $287 million per year deal over five years also $1.435 billion in total that NBC Universal is paying for Smackdown starting in October 2024.
Meltzer would go on to write more about what the deal means for WWE.
“The deal includes four WWE prime-time specials per year on NBC, so they will maintain a network presence, just not weekly. The Raw and NXT deals are not completed. NBCU has the right to match any outside deal for the two shows. If Raw and NXT stay, getting Smackdown would give USA three WWE shows per week and the key to that is it would elevate USA back near the top of cable ratings as a network. If USA keeps Raw and NXT, between that and the specials and the Peacock deal, it would give NBCU exclusivity with the WWE product.”
“A key to that would be with exclusivity, NBCU could get the television shows onto Peacock as soon as it wants to rather than waiting the 30 days, but that would be a decision from the network side.”
“FX, owned by Disney, and Amazon Prime were the other key people bidding for the deal. It also makes the next year a lame duck period for Smackdown on FOX, meaning likely less promotion of the show and the company.”
Tonight’s episode of WWE Smackdown takes place in Phoenix with John Cena expected to team up with AJ Styles in a huge tag team match.