Smackdown Shifts from Fox to USA in NBCUniversal Rights Deal

Shifting arenas, Smackdown preps for a broadcasting homecoming.

by Noman Rasool
Smackdown Shifts from Fox to USA in NBCUniversal Rights Deal
© WWE/YouTube

In a major development within the world of professional wrestling entertainment, WWE's flagship television program, "Friday Night Smackdown," is making its much-anticipated move from Fox to its former home, the USA Network.

This transition is set to occur next year, unfolding under a new five-year domestic media rights deal inked with NBCUniversal. Drawing in massive audiences, especially in the coveted 18-49 demographic, "Smackdown" boasts iconic performances from wrestling giants like Roman Reigns, Charlotte Flair, Rey Mysterio, and rising star Bianca Belair.

Its recent ratings spike is attributed to the return of wrestling luminary John Cena and a surprise visit by Hollywood's own Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Smackdown's Network Shift

The wrestling faithful can mark their calendars as "Smackdown" gears up to begin its stint on USA Network come October 2024.

For context, Fox had been the home of “Smackdown” for the past five years, since October 2019. Before this phase, viewers were tuning into “Smackdown” on the USA Network from 2016 till 2019. While the financial intricacies of this deal remain under wraps, the partnership promises more than just the transition of "Smackdown".

As part of this strategic collaboration, WWE is slated to roll out four prime-time specials annually on NBC, starting from the 2024/2025 broadcasting season. This marks a seminal moment as it's the debut of WWE content during prime-time on the network.

Reflecting on the partnership, WWE President Nick Khan expressed, “NBCUniversal and WWE have shared a prosperous journey for decades. Extending this rapport, we're thrilled to reintroduce 'SmackDown' to the USA Network's Friday nights and are eagerly awaiting the annual WWE special events on NBC”.

Meanwhile, USA Network continues its broadcast of “WWE NXT” and “WWE Monday Night Raw” until September 2024. Speaking on this continued association, Frances Berwick, the chairman of NBCUniversal Entertainment remarked, “Our long-standing association with WWE cements USA Network's position as the top-rated cable entertainment network." On the corporate front, WWE is now nestled under the umbrella of TKO Group Holdings Inc., which recently made its trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

Complementing this shift, Endeavor Group Holdings Inc. finalized its deal with World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., leading to a behemoth $21.4 billion sports entertainment entity, amalgamating WWE and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.