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Here Comes The Money - WWE Signs $1 Billion Deal With FOX For SmackDown

TheHollywoodReporter- Fox will be the anticipated home of WWE SmackDown Live in a massive new five-year deal worth more than $1 billion, sources close to the negotiations tell The Hollywood Reporter. The new deal, which is nearing completion and is worth $205 million annually, is expected to begin in October 2019, and will mark a three-fold increase over what NBCUniversal is currently paying WWE to air SmackDown on its USA Network.

WWE is said to have had an even higher bid from a third party – and enthusiastic interest overall. But WWE executives are said to have embraced Fox’s commitment to heavily promote SmackDown across a robust sports portfolio that includes the NFL and Major League Baseball.

The deal would split WWE programming rights with NBC, which is expected to retain Raw. Smack is averaging 2.59 million viewers a week so far this year, while Raw is pulling about 3 million. Both programs currently air on USA. And the WWE had a significant part in the network’s May 14 upfront presentation to advertisers with Stephanie McMahon, WWE’s chief brand officer, introducing several female wrestlers including former UFC star Ronda Rousey.

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Daniel Bryan gets cleared, FOX instantly throws a quick bil’ at WWE for the show he’s on. Coincidence?

(Yes, yes, yes.)

Wow. I expected SmackDown to land at either FOX or FOX Sports 1 (as they initially targeted RAW and SmackDown for those networks respectively) but did NOT expect them to get ten figures, five years for it. Neither did that dickhole Colin Cowherd, either…

Ha! What an idiot.

With this new deal, set to come into effect in October of 2019, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter predicts the WWE would sell (if they wanted to sell) for possibly $6 billion. To put that into a bit of context, the UFC sold for $4.2 billion in the Summer of 2016. Pretty nuts.

Speaking of the UFC, this news ain’t great for them, as their television deal with FOX is expiring and ratings/pay-per-view are down with little to no big name draws carrying them on the horizon. It’s certainly not spelling out doom or anything, but it’s definitely not the news they wanted to hear today.

My take on the deal is this: I’m happy for the WWE that they’re about to be making more money than ever before. I love to see the wrestling business succeed in any way it could. I’m very happy for my pals who will benefit. But I think now’s maybe a good time for the company to get some health insurance for their roster. There is now so much incoming revenue from television, between this and the renegotiated NBCUniversal deal, that they don’t even have to sell merch or tickets to house shows. They legit don’t matter. Soooooooooo let’s work on rewarding those who put their health and safety on the line night in and night out to entertain your fans, yeah?

Oh, and the move to Fridays STINKS. I’m gonna like being able to call it “Friday Night SmackDown” again, because that’s what I grew up with and what it’ll always be to me, but pre-taping the show again in the age of the internet makes me lose a lot of interest in it. You could say “Just avoid spoilers blah blah blah” but the fact of the matter is this: if RAW is live and SmackDown is pre-taped, one of those shows feels important and carries an “Anything could happen!” vibe, and the other doesn’t. This becomes a vicious circle once the writers internalize that and become gun-shy to. At that point, they start booking a (basically non-canon) show, and the live crowd can’t even get worked up enough for their pops to make it to television. That’s when we get piped-in “hairdryer” pops.

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But there’s still a ton of kinks to get worked out, and this doesn’t come into effect for over a year, so right now I’m not gonna waste too much of my energy worrying about it. Right now, I’m gonna take a page out of my good friend Lorenzo Fertitta’s playbook, and toast to good business.

Congrats, Vinny Mac. You’re finally worth Ted Turner cash.