WWE 'Smackdown' Up for Grabs as NBCUniversal Moves to Pin Down 'Raw'

Lewis Collier
May 17, 2018

According to The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni, we could see RAW and Smackdown on separate networks in the future.

HollywoodReporter.com reports that NBCU is paying almost three times the current rate for Raw, but it will allow Smackdown to enter opening bidding. Belloni also said that the deal to keep Raw was for 3-times their current value so WWE management must be thrilled with that. This could be a very big deal pretty soon for a new network looking for a boost on Tuesday nights.

Neither NBCU nor WWE have commented on the matter.

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WWE's TV contract with NBC Universal was re-signed in 2014 and eventually lead to the USA Network becoming the exclusive channel for Raw and SmackDown Live broadcasts.

Reportedly, NBCUniversal paid $30 million for the rights to Smackdown Live in 2010, but the deal in 2019 would have been way more expensive. Presumably, that would mean that Raw would stay on the USA Network but it's possible that they could move to one of their other networks.

Smackdown, which still boasts the sixth biggest audience among cable originals (including news programming), enters the open market as sports and sports entertainment (WWE wrestling is staged) programming has been fetching a premium given the live tune-in that comes with it. Disney and ESPN earlier this month inked their first-ever multiyear deal for digital rights to live UFC Fight Night events in a pact worth $750 million ($150 million annually) starting in January.

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