WWE to bring back ‘SmackDown’ to NBCUniversal’s USA Network


CONNECTICUT: World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) highly popular “Friday Night SmackDown” is set to make its return to the USA Network in October 2024.

According to media reports, the return is the result of a newly established five-year domestic media rights partnership between TKO Group Holdings and NBCUniversal, as confirmed by WWE on Thursday.

However, following the announcement of the partnership, shares of TKO experienced a notable drop, with a decrease of over 14 per cent.

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The reports indicate that the financial terms of the deal translate to an average annual value of approximately $287 million, amounting to a total deal value exceeding $1.4 billion, as reported by CNBC.

It is pertinent to note that WWE does not anticipate finalising a rights agreement for its flagship show, Raw until the following year.

SmackDown has been airing on Fox since October 2019 under a previous rights agreement valued at $205 million per year, part of a five-year deal. The new agreement represents a substantial increase of approximately 40 per cent in value. Notably, SmackDown had previously appeared on the USA Network from 2016 to 2019.

It is important to highlight that WWE is a component of TKO Group Holdings, a corporate entity formed after the merger between WWE and Endeavor’s UFC. TKO recently commenced trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) last week.

As part of the collaboration, WWE is committed to producing four prime-time specials annually, set to air on NBC starting from the 2024-2025 season.

Meanwhile, Chairman NBCUniversal Entertainment Frances Berwick expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, stating, “It’s a privilege and thrill to continue NBCU’s decades-long partnership with WWE, which has helped cement USA Network’s consistent position as the top-rated cable entertainment network in live viewership. With Friday nights on USA, primetime specials on NBC, and the WWE hub on Peacock, we’ll continue to use the power of our portfolio to super-serve this passionate fanbase.”

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