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Real Reason FOX Decided To Not Renew WWE SmackDown

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WWE issued the following press release on September 21st:

“WWE, part of TKO Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: TKO), and NBCUniversal have agreed to a 5-year domestic media rights partnership that will bring Friday Night SmackDown back to USA Network beginning October 2024.

Additionally, beginning in the 2024/25 season, WWE will produce four primetime specials per year that will air on NBC, marking the first time WWE will air on the network in primetime.”

During their Q1 Earnings Call, FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch explained why they decided not to renew WWE SmackDown’s deal (for which they paid $1 billion for 5 years):

“We were not hitting the advertising numbers due to the audience of the WWE for our return on investment to be above the levels that we would accept.

But also, we didn’t attribute enough significant retransmission revenue to the WWE either. So, it made sense for us to move on. They’ve been a great partner for many years but just quite simply, we’re very disciplined and the ROI didn’t meet our pretty disciplined parameters.

So, we wish them luck and we’ve moved on from them.”

According to the Wrestling Observer, the data they received shows that FOX lost money on their SmackDown deal, despite the show being the most watched pro-wrestling in the US, regularly drawing over 2 million viewers, with a recent Roman Reigns segment drawing over 3 million viewers.

They also reported that a lot of advertisers have a negative view of wrestling, which means ad rates were not up to the mark.

WWE SmackDown’s new deal with the USA Network pays them $1.4 billion for 5 years.

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