Following WWE's merger with UFC earlier this month, all eyes turned to the global leader in sports-entertainment's media rights. It has long been documented that broadcast deals for Monday Night Raw, WWE NXT and WWE SmackDown are due to expire in Fall 2024. With WWE in the process of getting new ownership, it was unlikely that it would make any progress on those negotiations until after the sale to Endeavor and the formation of TKO went through. Now that both of those tasks are finalized, WWE has resumed focus on what it is going to do with its television products and has already reached a deal for one of its biggest programs.
WWE SmackDown Moves to USA Network
As announced by WWE in a press release, WWE and NBCUniversal have agreed to a five-year deal to bring WWE SmackDown to USA Network starting in October 2024. This contract is a domestic partnership and will keep the blue brand on USA until 2029.
This ends WWE's relationship with FOX, which began in Fall 2019 when the blue brand began airing on the top network. On the flip side, this deal extends WWE's longtime relationship with NBCUniversal, as it has partnered with the media conglomerate for decades. Currently, WWE's entire streaming library exists on NBCUniversal's Peacock.
Beyond that, WWE will produce "four primetime specials per year" that will air on NBC. WWE touts that this is the first time its product will air on that channel in primetime.
"NBCUniversal has been a tremendous partner of WWE for decades," WWE President Nick Khan said. "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."
"It's a privilege and thrill to continue NBCU's decades-long partnership with WWE which has helped cement USA Network's consistent position as the top-rated cable entertainment network in live viewership" said Frances Berwick, Chairman, NBCUniversal Entertainment. "With Friday nights on USA, primetime specials on NBC, and the WWE hub on Peacock, we'll continue to use the power of our portfolio to super-serve this passionate fanbase."
What Happens With Raw and NXT?
As reported by THR, WWE SmackDown's move to USA Network means "the end of Raw and NXT" on that channel. Sources indicate that the market for Monday Night Raw is "extremely active" with "unexpected players" emerging as top candidates.
This is the end of an era for Monday Night Raw, as it has been on USA Network for just about its entire existence. Raw premiered on USA back in January 1993 and stayed on that channel until September 2000, exiting briefly for a five-year stint with SpikeTV. The program returned to USA Network in October 2005 and has been there ever since.1comments