Even before reports last week that WWE’s next broadcasting contracts could split Raw and SmackDown onto separate networks, Fox was said to be very interested in landing pro wrestling/sports entertainment. As soon as word hit that NBC Universal had determined they would only pay for Monday nights, Fox was named as a front runner for SmackDown.
According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, it’s happening due to a “massive” offer from Fox.
The report doesn’t specify the amount of the offer. The stories of a big contract from NBC for Raw and a second large deal for SmackDown sent WWE stock to record heights last week, and this will likely continue that climb.
It also doesn’t offer details such as whether the blue brand will air on Fox’s main broadcast channel or FS1, their main cable sports offering. Such a decision will also likely impact any decision on SmackDown remaining a two hour show or adding an hour like its Monday night counterpart.
There are also questions about the brand split, and if WWE’s new partners will be alright with only getting half their roster. Will Fox want to be able to promote Ronda Rousey, Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns as well? Or will they be content to stay out of those decisions as long as SmackDown continues to deliver the approximately 2.5 million viewers its been drawing for the past couple years?
Whether this report is on the money or not, there’s time for those details to be ironed out. SmackDown wouldn’t debut on a Fox network until fall of 2019.
UPDATE: The Wrap reports Fox plans to move SmackDown onto their main channel on Fridays. The site’s source doesn’t state whether or not they would still tape on Tuesdays or remain live on a new night.
UPDATE 2: Rovell confirmed the plan is for Fox’s broadcast channel, but hasn’t commented on the scheduled night or taping plans.
UPDATE 3: The Hollywood Reporter’s sources say the deal is for five years at a total value of over a billion dollars.
WWE and Fox have declined to comment on any these reports.