WWE, part of the newly created TKO Group, and NBCUniversal have agreed to a five-year domestic media rights deal that will bring Friday Night SmackDown to USA Network starting in Oct. 2024, exiting its current home on Fox.
WWE will also produce four specials a year for NBC primetime.
Raw, the top-rated flagship property that also airs on USA Network on Monday, is not part of this deal. Today’s announcement noted that USA Networks “is currently home to WWE Monday Night Raw and WWE NXT, “which will continue to air on USA Network through September of 2024.” A number of players are said to be circling Raw.
Financial terms weren’t disclosed but Mark Shapiro, president and chief operating officer of WWE parents TKO Group and Endeavor, said recently when asked about negotiations that he expected results “line with market expectations.” That could meaning about a 40% bump from the previous SmackDown deal, which is thought to be in the $200 million-a year range.
SmackDown stars include John Cena, Roman Reigns, Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, and Rey Mysterio — regularly rates as the No. 1 show in the 18-49 advertising demographic on Friday nights. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson brought an especially hefty audience to last week’s fight. Raw pulls in even better numbers.
Word on WWE rights renewals or deals has been eagerly awaited by the industry and Wall Street since an exclusive negotiating window for current partners expired last year with no news.
WWE also has an exclusive U.S. streaming deal with Peacock through 2026. Its on-demand programming includes original series, documentaries, content from the WWE archives and live events led by WrestleMania, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and Summer Slam.
“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” said NBCU Entertainment chair Frances Berwick. “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.”
WWE President Nick Khan said NBCUniversal has been “a tremendous partner” of WWE for decades. “We are excited to extend this longstanding relationship by bringing SmackDown to USA Network on Friday nights and look forward to debuting multiple WWE special events annually on NBC.”
WWE and Endeavor’s UFC merged earlier this month to create the new publicly traded TKO Group, which is 51% owned by Endeavor. UFC’s rights deal with ESPN expires in 2025.
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