Johnson: WWE Deal With Fox "Massive"

WWE's new deal with Fox, worth more than $1 billion, will "change the blueprint of the company"

Taz and the Moose
May 22, 2018 - 10:21 am

USA Today Images

WWE has reached an agreement with Fox, which will begin airing “Smackdown Live” on Friday evenings, beginning October 2019. The five-year deal is worth more than $1 billion. 

“It’s massive,” PWInsider Mike Johnson said on Taz & The Moose. “It’s going to be cross-promoted via NFL and Major League Baseball games, which is one of the reasons why WWE decided to go with Fox as opposed to another suitor.”

The deal is worth approximately $205 million annually.

“This is massive,” Johnson reiterated. “‘Smackdown’ started in 1999 on the UPN Network with WWF at the time paying for the time slot. Now you fast forward almost 20 years later, and they’re going to be getting a billion-dollar television deal for their product. It’s amazing.”
 
NBCU, which has aired “Smackdown” since 2010, opted against renewing its deal for the program but will retain rights to “Monday Night Raw.”

As of now, Fox’s deal is for “Smackdown” only.

“As far as we know, that’s it,” Johnson said. “It’s the licensing for the ‘Smackdown’ TV series in the United States and possibly other countries as well. I think there’s probably other aspects to it that we just haven’t learned yet. You would think FS1 and some of the other channels might be getting some WWE-related programming. For that type of money, I'm sure WWE would be more than happy to produce some original content for Fox, but we haven’t sifted through all the mist and the smoke yet to figure out all the nuts and bolts.”

It remains to be seen how WWE will manage its relationship with two different partners, especially if both want the same stars on their networks.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Johnson said. “They’re going to sign a new deal with NBC. There’s reports they’re going to get as much as three times as much money for ‘Monday Night Raw.’ This company is going to be making (upwards of) $500 million a year starting in late 2019 just for their American television rights. The company has never made this amount of money before. This is a major jump for them in terms of how things are going to shake out. There’s a lot of unanswered questions. It could be Fox and NBC aren’t going to want the shows to co-mingle. We don’t know whether ‘Raw’ talent will be allowed to be on ‘Smackdown’ or vice versa. But they’ve never had a situation like this before where they’ve got to serve different corporate masters, both of whom are paying them hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s going to have to change the blueprint of the company. How much, I don’t know.”