WWE announced a blockbuster deal that will see their secondary show move to Fox in 2019. The deal is said to be worth at least $1 Billion dollars, and both companies will see a tremendous return on their deal. Fox, will gain another wildly popular sport to run and promote, especially with UFC rumored to be leaving the network soon. WWE will gain access to Fox advertisers, and most importantly they’ll regain access to the demographic they’ve largely shunned in their move to more PG geared content. As such, WWE will almost certainly be changing the way Smackdown Live operates. By the time next year rolls around, Smackdown Live will look entirely different.
With Fox on board, WWE will be seen by millions of people who wouldn’t have normally seen their product otherwise. This will be made possible largely by Fox co-advertising the WWE brand alongside the other sports that they broadcast on their affiliate networks. That’s a huge deal, as it puts WWE in prime position to truly compete against the likes of the NFL, MLB, and NBA during the times those sports enjoy higher ratings (i.e. the playoffs). With more eyes on the product, the roster will have to also be a bit more stacked to better compete.
That means when the next Superstar Shakeup rolls around, expect Smackdown Live to snag a ton more talent. This could in fact be the time to make all those big roster moves, to better align the talent that’s available between the two shows. This could be the catalyst that brings either Braun Strowman or Roman Reigns to Smackdown. Right now, they are both competing within the same space, and the logical solution would be to ship one to Smackdown. The only other option would be to turn one heel, and we’ve seen WWE’s reluctance there with Reigns, and a Braun heel turn right now would destroy all momentum he has.
The big question mark surrounding Smackdown’s move to Fox would be if WWE will keep the show to two hours. It has been rumored recently that WWE is toying with the idea of moving all their PPV events to 4 hours in order to showcase more talent. They technically wouldn’t have to do that if they added another hour to Smackdown through the week however. Extending Smackdown (even though that’s kind of a bad idea too), would help keep the PPV’s from running too long. Big events like SummerSlam and Wrestlemania are typically 7 hours from start to finish currently. With adding extra time to any of their shows, WWE could run the risk of viewers suffering wrestling fatigue and tuning out altogether.
No matter how you slice it, the WWE Smackdown move to Fox is a very important one. It has already sent WWE stock soaring to record heights, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. With Fox’s audience and advertisement reach, the WWE product could reach a much-needed spike in viewership, as ratings have been lackluster lately. One thing is for certain though; Vince McMahon may be out of touch with today’s wrestling fan, but he is just as shrewd a businessman as he’s ever been.