WWE 'Smackdown' Up for Grabs as NBCUniversal Moves to Pin Down 'Raw'

WWE 'Smackdown' Up for Grabs as NBCUniversal Moves to Pin Down 'Raw'

HollywoodReporter.com reports that NBCU is paying almost three times the current rate for Raw, but it will allow Smackdown to enter opening bidding. NBCU is said to be focusing on renewing its pact for WWE's Raw, another wrestling franchise, and that deal is expected to close at as much as three times its current value.

WWE spokeswoman Annie Kruger told Sporting News in March that the company intended on unveiling their new TV partners sometime between May and September.

For the past few years now, NBCUniversal owned the rights to both WWE Raw and Smackdown Live. According to THR, the weekly professional wrestling program - which features former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion and #1 Contender for the Raw Women's Championship Ronda Rousey and former UFC Heavyweight Champion and reigning WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar - is the apparent focus of NBCU's efforts to keep the WWE in the company's family.

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TV rights is a huge revenue earner for the WWE, so it's unlikely WWE just wants to put Smackdown on its own WWE Network. Fox, who in January scored a massive five-year, $550 million per year deal for the rights to the NFL's Thursday Night Football, is being speculated as a home for Smackdown Live. The show began airing that year on Syfy, with corporate sibling US heavily promoting it. SmackDown moved full time to United States of America in January 2016, as the cable network home to Mr. Robot and The Sinner aired all three WWE shows: SmackDown, Raw and Tough Enough.

The main thing WWE needs to agree on is that Smackdown Live needs to air preferably on Tuesday nights in order for the show to stay being "live". The show now garners the sixth-biggest audience among cable originals. In addition to Raw and Smackdown, WWE produces Main Event and Superstars for their streaming Network service.

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