Colin Cowherd was backstage for this weeks edition of WWE SmackDown Live at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Cowherd was spotted sitting at ringside with Fox Sports President Eric Shanks and Fox Sports Talent Producer Jacob Ullman. Rumors have be circulating for a while that WWE met with reps from Disney, Amazon, YouTube, Fox and CBS about potential future partnerships.
WWE has had a working relationship with NBC Universal for the better part of four decades, from airing Saturday Night’s Main Event and Tribute To The Troops on NBC proper, to Monday Night Raw being a staple of the USA Network since its 1993 inception (minus that five-year gap when WWE partnered with Spike TV).
Even though ratings for Raw have been declining in recent years, the program is still one of the highest-rated shows on cable every Monday night, as is Smackdown Live on Tuesdays. There is big money to be made in TV rights, which is one of the reasons why USA pushed Raw to go to three hours, to maximize ad revenue.
WWE’s current TV deal with NBC Universal, worth an estimated $200 million, expires in September 2019. That may seem like a lot of money, but it actually was significantly less than WWE was hoping for when they were negotiating back in 2014, and WWE stock took a significant hit after the deal was announced.
According to Bleacherreport.com
Fox is reportedly offering WWE the chance to air Monday Night Raw on broadcast television if Fox and WWE come to terms on a TV rights deal.
According to Michael McCarthy of Sporting News, Raw would air on Fox, with SmackDown Live going to FS1 as part of Fox’s offer.
WWE’s long-running contract with USA Network will officially end on Sept. 30, 2019. WWE spokeswoman Annie Kruger told McCarthy that WWE plans to announce its television plans between May and this September.
Raw moving to Fox would be a major coup for WWE since the station is available in 115 million homes in the United States, as opposed to nearly 96 million for USA Network as of 2015.
Per McCarthy, a source said, “[Fox] is definitely trying to get [the WWE]. They’ll pass on UFC, then use Raw for [Fox Broadcasting] and FS1 content.”
Fox will have a significant programming opening should UFC sign elsewhere when its deal expires in 2018.
Both WWE and UFC are reportedly seeking $400 million per year for their television rights, according to McCarthy.
Although Fox promises to be an enticing suitor for WWE, it has a deeply rooted relationship with USA.
Raw aired on USA Network from its launch in 1993 through 2000 before moving to TNN/Spike TV from 2000 through 2005.
It returned to USA in 2005 and has aired on that station ever since.
SmackDown has aired on several different networks since its inception in 1999, and it moved to USA in 2016.
Should WWE and Fox strike a deal, Fox will gain the broadcasting rights for what WWE touts as the longest-running weekly episodic television show as Raw recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Listen to Colin Cowherd, who hosts The Herd with Colin Cowherd on FOX Sports Radio and FOX Sports 1, as well Speak For Yourself on FS1, discussed his visit to SmackDown Live this week.
Do you think WWE moving to FOX would be a great business move? Would you like to see it happen?