WWE SmackDown looks likely to leave FOX.
The blue brand has enjoyed a fine run of strong ratings for much of 2023, but it seems that might not be enough to keep the show on FOX.
WWE’s current media rights deals expire in 2024, paving the way for new monster contracts to be put in place. While it looks as though Raw and NXT will be staying with USA, SmackDown could be on the move, with FOX unprepared to meet the sports entertainment giant’s asking price.
Speaking on Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer noted there’s a feeling SmackDown will leave FOX due to the broadcaster being unwilling to meet WWE’s $300 million price tag.
“Something else also, when Garrett and I were talking on Friday about Disney being interested in SmackDown on Friday. The belief is that Raw and NXT will probably stay with USA although WWE is looking for a huge increase in price for both of those shows, especially Raw, obviously from 465 to 700 [million].
As far as SmackDown goes, time will tell. There’s a feeling that FOX is not going to go for the 300, which is what WWE is trying to get out of Smackdown or more, and that Disney and Amazon are probably the two companies most in contention for it. And if it’s Disney, I brought up ABC or probably FX.”
Meltzer added that while ABC is “not out of the realm of possibility,” given the success of their existing Friday night programming, a straight switch “doesn’t necessarily make sense.”
Despite this, a deal could still be done as SmackDown only airs on Friday as that’s where FOX wanted it on the schedule.
“They’re not married to Friday. They’re on Friday because FOX wanted them on Friday. If you remember, they were on Tuesday for a long time. They’d been on Thursday, they’d been on, basically on the night that the network that owns the rights wants them to be on.
So perhaps there’s another night that ABC would want them or perhaps they want them to boost FOX, which they will boost greatly because it’s the number one show on a weekly basis when it comes to cable, on a year-round basis, 52 weeks a year. I mean, it’s not always number one. I mean, obviously, football is always going to beat it. Big sports events will always beat it. But it’s a steady performer. It’ll be a steady performer week in and week out.”
WWE SmackDown Ratings Fall
The most recent episode of WWE SmackDown on September 8th saw ratings slump 14.3% from the previous week. The total viewership figure was the lowest on FOX since May 5th, as well as being down 11.5% from 2022.
The episode was without the blue brand’s biggest stars with both Roman Reigns and John Cena absent.
H/t to WrestlingNews.Co