WWE has made a landmark deal for the television rights to SmackDown with the USA Network, marking the end of the show’s tenure on FOX. From 2024, the WWE program will commence its five-year contract on the USA Network, a transition that has been widely speculated since the news of the impending expiry of its previous contract came to light.
Contrarily, Raw and NXT are expected to retain their run on the USA Network despite their own contracts nearing expiration. This sentiment was echoed by former Raw general manager Eric Bischoff during ‘Strictly Business’. “That’s kind of where I would lean and there’s no reason for that, really, other than my gut” said Bischoff, “the show has been on the network for a very long time.”
In the constantly evolving television landscape, where streaming and on-demand services are on the uprising, Bischoff emphasizes the importance of sticking to established television brands and values. With the norm set by WWE Raw of running 52 weeks per year, with no offseason, the value and comfort it provides for the network and advertisers are significant.
Interestingly, Bischoff also talked about the idea of extending SmackDown to a three-hour show on the USA Network. “If any network is going to do it, then the USA Network certainly has experience…USA has obviously had a lot of experience with it. They’re very comfortable with it, they’ve been doing it for a long time,” commented Bischoff.
The new contract with the USA Network translates to a whopping 40% revenue increase for WWE. SmackDown’s move, a three-hour show, and the revenue bump wouldn’t surprise Bischoff, a veteran observer of significant shifts in pro wrestling.
Offering broader horizons for WWE, SmackDown’s extension, if it happens, would grant the program more picks in the WWE Draft, thus helping to fill up the additional airtime. As we wait for these potential changes, let us know what you think about WWE possibly extending SmackDown to a three-hour show in the comments.