NBCUniversal May Drop WWE Smackdown Live From Its TV Schedule

NBCUniversal May Drop WWE Smackdown Live From Its TV Schedule

Fox secured the rights to Thursday Night Football this year for a huge five-year, $550 million deal, and Fox is expected to invest heavily in live sports programming as it divests itself of its sister production company 21st Century Fox Television in Fox's sale with Disney.

This might mean SmackDown Live could be up for grabs soon and might wind up on an entirely different network. However, in order to make that financial commitment, US is expected to allow WWE to shop SmackDown Live to other networks in order to defray the inflated expense of airing WWE's signature Monday night show. At the time, U.S. aired five hours of live WWE programming a week; WWE programming now airs two nights a week on USA. "From our end, [we don't think] it's an issue to split it", said Barrios.

Hollywood Reporter Editorial Director Matthew Belloni posted information Wednesday indicating that Smackdown Live could be done on the USA Network, while Raw is sticking around at triple the price they're now making. They're keeping RAW but the deal is so big (3x current value, I'm told) that they're not re-signing both. Most believed their visit was to view the product live and discuss potential TV plans, though there have also been rumors that FOX has at least considered attempting to buy WWE from owner Vince McMahon.

Over the past few months, it's looked very likely that the WWE would be working with FOX, then with the NBC Upfront presentation earlier this week, it looked more likely that the WWE would stay with NBC Universal.