Over the last few months there’s been a lot of talk about TV rights when it comes to WWE, and it looks like some major changes will be made. Today the company announced that SmackDown will be leaving FOX as the blue brand will be making USA Network its new home starting in October of 2024. The deal with NBCUniversal will also see WWE produce four primetime specials per year that will air on NBC.
According to The Hollywood Reporter the deal to bring WWE to primetime on NBC, and SmackDown to USA means the end of Raw and NXT on USA Network. However, it’s being said that the market for Raw is “extremely active.” There are said to be traditional networks, streaming services and “unexpected players” interested in the show.
Monday Night Raw and NXT will continue to air on USA Network through September of 2024. Nick Khan and Frances Berwick of NBCUniversal both confirmed in the official announcement that SmackDown will continue to air on Friday nights.
WWE issued the following press release:
SmackDown Returns to USA Network as Part of Five-Year Agreement Between WWE and NBCUniversal
WWE to Make NBC Primetime Debut with Launch of Four Network Specials
STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– WWE, part of TKO Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: TKO), and NBCUniversal have agreed to a five-year domestic media rights partnership that will bring Friday NightSmackDown back to USA Network beginning October 2024. Additionally, 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.
This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230920947679/en/
SmackDown will come exclusively to NBCU as one of television’s longest-running programs, regularly rating as the No. 1 show in the 18-49 advertising demographic on Friday nights and featuring many WWE Superstars including John Cena, Roman Reigns, Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, and Rey Mysterio.
“NBCUniversal has been a tremendous partner of WWE for decades,” said WWE President Nick Khan. “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.”
As part of WWE and NBCUniversal’s longstanding relationship, USA Network is currently home to WWE NXT and WWE Monday Night Raw, which is the #2 cable entertainment program in 2023 in the 18-49 demo. Demonstrating the deeply engaged WWE audience on USA, WWE NXT (+27%) and WWE Monday Night Raw (+15%) are up double-digits year-over-year in the target demographic. WWE Monday Night Raw and WWE NXT will continue to air on USA Network through September 2024.
In addition, since 2021, Peacock has been the exclusive home of WWE Network in the U.S. where Peacock subscribers can stream thousands of hours of on-demand programming from WWE including original series, groundbreaking documentaries, fan-favorite shows from the WWE archives, and premium live events like WrestleMania, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, Summer Slam,and more. WWE continues to drive high engagement on the platform, with this April’s WrestleMania 39 livestream delivering a record-breaking weekend for Peacock as its highest weekend usage to-date.