Breakdown of New Deal That Will Bring WWE’s Smackdown Live to FOX

USA Network only cared about RAW, so that gave other networks the opportunity to bid on Smackdown, which now might actually be the A show since it will be on regular network TV starting in 2019.

ESPN has the scoop.

WWE has agreed in principle to make Fox the new home of “SmackDown Live,” after the network came to WWE with what sources described as a “massive” offer.

The deal will begin in October 2019.

As first reported by the Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, NBC Universal declined its right of first refusal to hit the numbers that WWE proposed on “SmackDown.” NBC instead focused its efforts on “Monday Night Raw.”

With live TV viewed as a prized commodity in the era of DVR and on-demand and “SmackDown Live” straddling the worlds of scripted and sports TV, Fox greatly valued the opportunity to pursue one of WWE’s signature programs.

WWE’s stock has risen 19% since the announcement.

Here are more details.

Fox will be the anticipated home of WWE SmackDown Live in a massive new five-year deal worth more than $1 billion, sources close to the negotiations tell The Hollywood Reporter. The new deal, which is nearing completion and is worth $205 million annually, is expected to begin in October 2019, and will mark a three-fold increase over what NBCUniversal is currently paying WWE to air SmackDown on its USA network.

WWE is said to have had an even higher bid from a third party – and enthusiastic interest overall. But WWE executives are said to have embraced Fox’s commitment to heavily promote SmackDown across a robust sports portfolio that includes the NFL and Major League Baseball.