By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE issued the following press release on Tuesday to officially announce the Smackdown television deal with Fox.
For the first time, every Friday night beginning October 4, 2019, FOX broadcast network will air WWE®’s flagship program SmackDownLive as part of a new five-year agreement with FOX Sports. The weekly, two-hour live event will air 52 weeks a year and captivate fans with a unique combination of edge-of-your-seat action, unpredictable drama and world-class athleticism.
“At FOX we are thrilled to welcome WWE to the FOX Sports family and bring SmackDown Live to broadcast television,” said Eric Shanks, President, COO and Executive Producer FOX Sports. “We are huge fans and know that together FOX Sports will be the leader in live events for the foreseeable future.”
“WWE and FOX are a perfect match,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “Moving SmackDown Live to broadcast TV and having the ability to leverage FOX’s extensive portfolio of world-class sporting events will expand the reach of our flagship programming.”
SmackDown Live is a consistent winner on television, currently averaging1 1.3M P18-49, 1.3M P25-54 and 3M total viewers P2+.
On air for almost 20 years and nearly 1,000 episodes, SmackDown Live is the second-longest running weekly episodic cable television show in U.S. primetime history, only behind Monday Night Raw®. SmackDown Live is currently among the most-watched, regularly scheduled programs on primetime cable and delivers more viewers in primetime than any cable network in the U.S. (2.9 million average viewers).
SmackDownLive has also helped launch the careers of pop-culture icons including Dwayne “The Rock®” Johnson, John Cena®, Undertaker®, Triple H®, “Stone Cold®” Steve Austin and The Bella Twins™.
Powell’s POV: The deal is no surprise given all of the likely planned leaks regarding the new partnership with Fox. The press release also clarifies that Smackdown will remain a live show despite moving to Friday nights once the deal kicks in. WWE also announced the Raw television agreement with USA Network. Check the main page for the separate press release.