Broadcasts of WWE’s SmackDown will leave Fox to return to USA Network as part of a new five-year deal between WWE and NBC Universal. WWE’s “Friday Night SmackDown” will broadcast on USA Network starting in October 2024.
NBC will pay $287 million per year for the U.S. rights to SmackDown, a total value of more than $1.4 billion, according to CNBC. It is a payment roughly 40% more than WWE’s existing five-year deal it began in 2019 with Fox, in which the network pays $205 million annually.
WWE will also produce four primetime specials annually to air on NBC beginning in the 2024-25 season. The new rights deal is WWE’s first since it merged with UFC owner Endeavor and went public last week under its new parent company, TKO Group Holdings.
Shares of TKO fell more than 12% following WWE’s announcement with NBC. The USA Network previously aired SmackDown from 2016 to 2019. NBC’s Peacock streaming service signed a five-year deal in 2021 to stream WWE content, including Wrestle Mania.
After adding SmackDown, USA Network is not expected to renew its rights deals to WWE shows “Raw” and “NXT,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Fox reportedly did not aggressively seek to keep the rights to SmackDown. WWE began layoffs earlier this month that could impact over 100 positions as it restructures after merging with UFC.