It has been reported that FOX are making losses of hundreds of millions of dollars on their deal to broadcast WWE SmackDown.
In June 2018 FOX announced a five-year agreement to air WWE SmackDown beginning in October 2019. The deal saw the show return to Friday nights, and the first episode back on the network was the brand’s 20th anniversary special. However, it appears that the deal might not have worked out quite as Fox had planned.
The company has lost well over $100 million in both of the last two years as a result of the agreement, and things are only expected to get worse.
FOX’s Astronomical Losses Due To WWE SmackDown Revealed
Writing in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer noted that financial services Morgan Stanley did an analysis of the deal on behalf of FOX. This laid bare the huge losses the network had taken as part of the deal and predicted that they would only get worse.
“Morgan Stanley did an analysis for FOX on Smackdown and felt that they couldn’t justify the price tag for the show. In the 2020-21 television season, FOX paid $196.7 million on the show and ended up with $134 million in losses. In 2021-22, FOX paid $208.5 million and ended up with $145 million in losses. The conclusion is that there simply are not enough wrestling fans to justify the kind of money FOX spent on the show, and that the number of viewers is not likely to change over the next two years.
They estimate that losses will only get worse, with a projection of $155.6 million in losses for the 2022-23 season and $166.9 million for the 2023-24 season. FOX’s deal is $221.1 million for the payment to WWE for Smackdown in 2022-23 and $234.3 million in 2023-24. But, because nothing has the reach of broadcast television, they recommended that WWE should take less money for the more exposure from broadcast over taking more money for a deal with a streaming service or a cable station.”
Discussion around WWE’s media rights has come into sharp focus in recent days with the news that the company is up for sale. This development has also seen Vince McMahon return to the company as Executive Chairman.