Friday Night SmackDown Returns to USA Network in Billion-Dollar Deal
A New Era for WWE’s Friday Night SmackDown
In an announcement that has left wrestling fans in anticipation, the World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) “Friday Night SmackDown” is set to return to the USA Network in October 2024. This move comes as part of a five-year domestic media rights partnership between TKO Group Holdings and NBCUniversal. The deal, worth over $1.4 billion, averages to an impressive $287 million per year.
The Impact of the Announcement
News of the deal led to a 14% drop in TKO Group Holdings’ shares, but it also marks a significant increase from the previous contract. Since October 2019, the show has been aired on Fox under a five-year deal worth $205 million annually. The new agreement represents a 40% increase, indicating the substantial value of the show in the entertainment industry.
But the return of Friday Night SmackDown to the USA Network is not the only exciting news for WWE fans. As part of the deal, WWE will also produce four prime-time specials per year to air on NBC beginning in the 2024-2025 season. This is the first time that the brand will air on the network during such a coveted slot.
Uncertainty Surrounds “Raw”
While the future of Friday Night SmackDown is now clear, the same cannot be said for WWE’s flagship show “Raw”. The company does not expect to reach a rights agreement for “Raw” until next year, leaving fans in suspense about the future of this popular show.
TKO Group Holdings: A New Player in the Game
TKO Group Holdings was created after a merger between WWE and Endeavor’s UFC. The group started trading on the New York Stock Exchange last week, making this billion-dollar deal one of their first major business moves. The partnership with NBCUniversal and the return of Friday Night SmackDown to the USA Network marks a promising start for the newly formed entity.
Despite the initial impact on TKO Group Holdings’ shares, this new deal represents a significant milestone for WWE and its fans. The return of Friday Night SmackDown to the USA Network, along with the announcement of new prime-time specials, promises an exciting future for the world of wrestling. It remains to be seen how the situation with “Raw” will unfold, but one thing is certain: WWE fans have a lot to look forward to in the coming years.
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