WWE SmackDown has aired on the FOX network since October 2019, and that five year deal wraps up next year. WWE recently announced that it reached a new long-term deal to bring SmackDown back to the USA network starting in October 2024.
One of the lingering questions behind this turn of events is why didn’t WWE and FOX agree to terms on a contract renewal?
FOX CEO Lochlan Murdoch answered that question at the Q1 2024 Fox Corporation Earnings Conference Call. Here’s what he said about not renewing the WWE TV deal, courtesy of POST Wrestling’s transcription:
On the Q1 2024 Fox Earnings Conference Call, Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch explains why they didn't renew WWE:— Jed I. Goodman © (@jedigoodman) November 2, 2023
We were not hitting the advertising numbers due to the audience of the WWE to make...to return for our return on investment to be above the levels that we would accept. But… pic.twitter.com/Hbwqf84tr0
“...we analyzed the WWE renewal and we look at all of our sports portfolios in the same way… Based on the analysis, (from) an advertising point of view, we were not hitting the advertising numbers due to the audience of WWE to make the return for our return on investment to be above the levels that we would accept. But also, we didn’t attribute enough significant retransmission revenue to the WWE either. So it made sense for us to move on from them. They’ve been a great partner for many years. But just quite simply, we’re very disciplined and the R.O.I. didn’t meet our disciplined parameters so, we wish them luck and we’ve moved on from them.”
WWE SmackDown’s ratings on FOX have been impressive relative to the competition. Even so, Lochlan’s assertion that “we were not hitting the advertising numbers due to the audience of WWE” seems to support the claims we’ve heard before about SmackDown’s lower ad rates due to the perception of WWE’s audience as being lower income or unlikely to spend money.
In other words, I think the FOX CEO just buried the WWE Universe. Let us know how you feel about that in the comments below, Cagesiders.