World Wrestling Entertainment’s “Friday Night SmackDown” is moving to NBCUniversal’s USA Network from broadcaster Fox beginning in October 2024.
The rights deal is the first since WWE merged with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to form a new publicly traded company, TKO Group Holdings, last week.
The new rights deal, announced Thursday, is for five years. In addition, the WWE will produce four prime-time specials a year to air on NBC, the broadcasting sister of USA Network.
The new contract marks a return to USA for “SmackDown,” which aired on the cable network from 2016 to 2019 before moving to Fox.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
In 2021, WWE signed an exclusive five-year deal to air its content, including “WrestleMania,” on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service.
WWE’s partnership with NBC goes back to 1993, when “Monday Night Raw” debuted on USA.
“NBCUniversal has been a tremendous partner of WWE for decades,” WWE President Nick Khan said in a statement. “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.”
The broadcast rights for “Raw,” which currently airs on USA, expire next year. The program was the top-rated scripted cable program airing on Monday nights this year.
Also on Thursday, Rupert Murdoch announced he will step down as chairman of both Fox Corp. and News Corp.
Source: LA Times