While the deal between WWE and FOX have been openly publicized and rumored, neither side had officially announced anything until today. WWE sent out two press releases announcing the deal has been finalized and that FOX Sports will air the blue brand for five years — as well as move it back to Fridays, where the show was aired before its move to Tuesdays in 2016. The show is still referred to as “SmackDown Live” in the press release, so hopefully the show will not return to being taped days in advance.
In addition to this announcement, WWE also announced they have reached a new deal with USA network for Monday Night Raw, also in a new five-year deal. “Monday Night Raw has been synonymous with USA Network and we are excited about what the future holds for WWE’s flagship program,” said Vince McMahon.
Check out the full WWE/FOX press release below:
NEW YORK & STAMFORD, Conn.-(BUSINESS WIRE)-For the first time, every Friday night beginning October 4, 2019, FOX broadcast network will air WWE®’s flagship program SmackDown Live as part of a new five-year agreement with FOX Sports. The weekly, two-hour live event will air 52 weeks a year and captivate fans with a unique combination of edge-of-your-seat action, unpredictable drama and world-class athleticism.
“At FOX we are thrilled to welcome WWE to the FOX Sports family and bring SmackDown Live to broadcast television,” said Eric Shanks, President, COO and Executive Producer FOX Sports. “We are huge fans and know that together FOX Sports will be the leader in live events for the foreseeable future.”
“WWE and FOX are a perfect match,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “Moving SmackDown Live to broadcast TV and having the ability to leverage FOX’s extensive portfolio of world-class sporting events will expand the reach of our flagship programming.”
SmackDown Live is a consistent winner on television, currently averaging1 1.3M P18-49, 1.3M P25-54 and 3M total viewers P2+.
On air for almost 20 years and nearly 1,000 episodes, SmackDown Live is the second-longest running weekly episodic cable television show in U.S. primetime history, only behind Monday Night Raw®. SmackDown Live is currently among the most-watched, regularly scheduled programs on primetime cable and delivers more viewers in primetime than any cable network in the U.S. (2.9 million average viewers).
SmackDown Live has also helped launch the careers of pop-culture icons including Dwayne “The Rock®” Johnson, John Cena®, Undertaker®, Triple H®, “Stone Cold®” Steve Austin and The Bella Twins™.
1: Source: Nielsen NNTV, 2018 YTD through April (1/1/18-4/30/18), Live+7 Average Viewers for selected demographics (P18-49, P25-54, P2+).
About FOX Sports
FOX Sports is the umbrella entity representing 21st Century FOX’s wide array of multi-platform US-based sports assets. Built with brands capable of reaching more than 100 million viewers in a single weekend, FOX Sports includes ownership and interests in linear television networks, digital and mobile programming, broadband platforms, multiple web sites, joint-venture businesses and several licensing partnerships. FOX Sports includes the sports television arm of the FOX Broadcasting Company; FS1, FS2; FOX Sports Regional Networks, their affiliated regional web sites and national programming; FOX Soccer Plus; FOX Deportes and FOX College Sports. In addition, FOX Sports also encompasses FOX Sports Digital, including FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports app. Also included in the Group are FOX’s interests in joint-venture businesses Big Ten Network and BTN 2Go, as well as a licensing agreement that established the FOX Sports Radio Network.
WWE, a publicly traded company (NYSE:WWE), is an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment. The company consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience. WWE is committed to family friendly entertainment on its television programming, pay-per-view, digital media and publishing platforms. WWE’s TV-PG, family-friendly programming can be seen in more than 800 million homes worldwide in 24 languages. WWE Network, the first-ever 24/7 over-the-top premium network that includes all live pay-per-views, scheduled programming and a massive video-on-demand library, is currently available in more than 180 countries. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Munich and Tokyo. Additional information on WWE (NYSE: WWE) can be found at wwe.com and corporate.wwe.com. For information on our global activities, go to http://www.wwe.com/worldwide/.
WWE says Shinsuke Nakamura is injured and will not wrestle tonight on Smackdown Live
Trademarks: All WWE programming, talent names, images, likenesses, slogans, wrestling moves, trademarks, logos and copyrights are the exclusive property of WWE and its subsidiaries. All other trademarks, logos and copyrights are the property of their respective owners.
Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains forward-looking statements pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which are subject to various risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, risks relating to: WWE Network; major distribution agreements; our need to continue to develop creative and entertaining programs and events; a decline in the popularity of our brand of sports entertainment; the continued importance of key performers and the services of Vincent K. McMahon; possible adverse changes in the regulatory atmosphere and related private sector initiatives; the highly competitive, rapidly changing and increasingly fragmented nature of the markets in which we operate and greater financial resources or marketplace presence of many of our competitors; uncertainties associated with international markets; our difficulty or inability to promote and conduct our live events and/or other businesses if we do not comply with applicable regulations; our dependence on our intellectual property rights, our need to protect those rights, and the risks of our infringement of others’ intellectual property rights; the complexity of our rights agreements across distribution mechanisms and geographical areas; potential substantial liability in the event of accidents or injuries occurring during our physically demanding events including, without limitation, claims relating to CTE; large public events as well as travel to and from such events; our feature film business; our expansion into new or complementary businesses and/or strategic investments; our computer systems and online operations; a possible decline in general economic conditions and disruption in financial markets; our accounts receivable; our revolving credit facility; litigation; our potential failure to meet market expectations for our financial performance, which could adversely affect our stock; Vincent K. McMahon exercising control over our affairs, and his interests may conflict with the holders of our Class A common stock; a substantial number of shares which are eligible for sale by the McMahons and the sale, or the perception of possible sales, of those shares could lower our stock price; and the relatively small public “float” of our Class A common stock. In addition, our dividend is dependent on a number of factors, including, among other things, our liquidity and cash flow, strategic plan (including alternative uses of capital), our financial results and condition, contractual and legal restrictions on the payment of dividends (including under our revolving credit facility), general economic and competitive conditions and such other factors as our Board of Directors may consider relevant. Forward-looking statements made by the Company speak only as of the date made, are subject to change without any obligation on the part of the Company to update or revise them, and undue reliance should not be placed on these statements.