WWE’s new television deal could change everything not only for television but also the product as well. Fox is a major player in the television market and a deal with Fox was once unheard of when talking about WWE… but it happened. Now SmackDown Live will air Friday nights on Fox’s primary network starting in October 2019.
The $1 billion five-year deal solidifies WWE as a major player but also strengthens the importance they’re going to start placing in their television shows. This will create a new way of booking where the importance isn’t placed on the big shows in most instances.
During the Monday Night Wars, Eric Bischoff threw everything he had at WWE and put priority in ratings over pay-per-view buys. This is the reason why he booked Hogan vs Goldberg with less than one week’s notice for the next Nitro in Atlanta. WWE could very well find themselves in the same kind of situation soon except they are essentially their own competition at this point. Because if Fox is broadcasting the show and putting money into this product WWE needs to produce.
Moving SmackDown Live to Fox is essentially crowning it the A-Show. I would like to thank The Miz, but WWE’s global influence as a whole and network television’s love of live programming helps too.
Bryan Alvarez noted on Wrestling Observer Live how WWE is likely going to start booking a lot of pay-per-views with multi-person matches and other angles leading into big televised matches on SmackDown Live.
Dave Meltzer also noted WWE is also likely going to place a lot of heavy Superstar talent on SmackDown as well. So don’t be surprised to see Ronda Rousey wrestling on Friday nights in 2019. Depending on how long Brock Lesnar sticks around he very well might be joining her. The point is a majority of the top talent is likely going to flock to SmackDown Live now due to the increased audience.
One caller asked what WWE would do about their Friday night SmackDown house shows and he responded they don’t even need them anymore. WWE has a guaranteed $1 billion coming into the company for the next five years. If they cut out their merchandising, the WWE Network, live shows, and everything else they would still be fine. But they’re not likely to stop if anything they will speed up their process in becoming a true global juggernaut.
WWE can also easily afford top dollar contracts as if they had a problem coming up with the payroll already. But this new deal with Fox is huge and we’re just starting to see the tip of the iceberg.
As WWE is allowed to utilize Fox’s broadcasting platform across their channels WWE Superstars are going to be even more ingrained in pop culture and sports. Just imagine Dolph Ziggler popping in on the Fox pre-game show to talk about football for a minute, now that is possible.
Hopefully, this will be a huge success and WWE’s fanbase will grow exponentially making it worth Fox’s money. WWE might be celebrating a huge win right now but they need to start working on the next phase because once SmackDown hits Fox they will have a lot more eyes on them so it would be best to have a plan and it could be a big one.