Multiple reports say WWE has agreed in principle to an agreement that will bring WWE SmackDown Live to Fox starting in October 2019. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox will pay $1 billion for five years.
As David Bixenspan wrote last week, WWE is cashing in on TV channels’ thirst for live sports TV. While WWE isn’t exactly sports—in case you weren’t aware, wrestling is scripted—its fans enjoy watching programs live. That means it’s relatively DVR-proof.
Last week, NBCU declined to re-bid for SmackDown, which has aired on cable channels since 2010. NBCU is expected to keep Raw—which airs Monday nights on USA—which The Hollywood Reporter’s Lesley Goldberg reported may cost the company three times the $80 million a year it currently pays.
WWE aired on UPN/CW from 1999 to 2006. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the then-WWF occasionally broadcast The Main Event, a spin-off of Saturday Night’s Main Event, on NBC. The first episode of The Main Event drew 33 million viewers, still a U.S. record for pro wrestling.
Fox only has two available hours of prime-time programming, so SmackDown is expected to remain a two-hour show.