USA Network has been the exclusive cable home to WWE flagship programs Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live for a while now, but it appears as though that era is headed to an end. It's being reported that USA has decided not to re-up its contract with the WWE for Smackdown Live and that the wrestling organization is currently shopping the program to other networks. While nothing is official at this time, it's being said that Fox may be the new home to the wrestling show at some point in the near future. Here's what we know.
Fox's acquisition of Smackdown Live would come after the network acquired Thursday Night Football back in January. Fox has reportedly shown interest in acquiring both WWE shows in the past, although current reports appear to show it's fine with just grabbing one at the moment. The potential move, while costly, shows that the network has an interest in further associating its brand with sports and sports entertainment, which is becoming an even more sought-after programming genre in this modern age of television. With DVR and services like Hulu easily accessible to audiences, shows with a live broadcast are surefire ways to get a Live+Same day day audience to tune into networks.
WWE appears to be aware of that need for live viewership, as the reported price tag for NBCU re-upping the rights to Monday Night Raw is steep. THR reports the sports entertainment program is renegotiating at a rate three times of the show's current value, which might be why USA Network balked at the chance to re-sign Smackdown Live as well. Monday Night Raw is typically considered the "A" show of the two WWE brands and is an hour longer than Smackdown Live, which may explain why the network preferred one show over the other.
Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live airing on two different networks is not unprecedented, however, and this wouldn't be the first time the two shows have split apart. In fact, while the two shows were occasionally under the same corporate umbrella, neither were on the same network until 2016 when NBC Universal brought Smackdown from Syfy to USA Network. Given that, and current reports that the WWE is shopping the show, it doesn't appear the company is all that concerned whether or not their two shows air on the same network.
For the time being, Smackdown Live airs on USA Network Tuesdays beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET. For a look at some shows set to premiere this summer, head on over to our summer premiere guide. WWE fans who haven't heard the latest on the Nikki Bella and John Cena breakup can also head here and read up on how Cena feels about his ex post-breakup. If you're in the mood for some streaming video as well, swing by our 2018 Netflix premiere schedule.