According to reports, the switch to Smackdown will also signal the end of a long run for Monday Night Raw, the main programme of the WWE on USA Network.
After going public, TKO Group Holdings, the organisation formed by the merger of the UFC and WWE, formally secured its first significant broadcast rights agreement.
WWE Smackdown will move from FOX to the USA Network (a division of NBCUniversal) in October 2024, according to a new five-year deal revealed by TKO on Thursday. WWE will also produce four primetime specials each year that will run on the primary NBC network in addition to the broadcast rights for Smackdown.
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According to CNBC, the five-year agreement is worth $287 million per year, for a total value of more than $1.4 billion.
According to reports, the switch to Smackdown will also signal the end of a long run for Monday Night Raw, the main programme of the WWE on USA Network. The Hollywood Reporter claims that TKO will negotiate a different broadcast rights agreement with a new network for Raw and NXT, a feeder organisation also run by WWE.
After the official merger between WWE and UFC to form TKO Group Holdings in September, it was anticipated that the company would announce new broadcast rights agreements as soon as possible. Mark Shapiro, president of TKO and Endeavour, previously discussed the significance of the broadcast rights agreements as they got ready to combine WWE and UFC under one brand with the new business.
According to reports, negotiations for WWE Raw and NXT are “extremely active” with a number of interested parties, including possible streaming partners as well as both traditional television networks.
Once that agreement is finalised, TKO will turn its attention to the UFC broadcast rights agreement, which is currently with ESPN through 2025. It is probable that TKO will reach an agreement with the UFC sometime in 2024 because negotiations for broadcast rights deals often begin about a year before the current contract ends.