The TV contracts for Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live have become a big topic of discussion as the company closes in on their contract expiration, but the latest rumour making the rounds may see the programs split onto separate networks.
It looks like SmackDown Live could be leaving USA Network sooner than later because of the fact Raw is such a large property. While the pro wrestling giants have geared much of their business towards the importance of WWE Network, the weekly Raw and SmackDown programs are still of huge significance to the company. Belloni also said that the deal to keep Raw was for 3-times their current value so WWE management must be thrilled with that.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, SmackDown is now up for open bidding and the TV rights are being shopped to various networks.
WWE's deal with USA / NBC expires on September 30, 2019, and they are now in an exclusive negotiating period with each other until the end of this spring.
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PWInsider contacted WWE regarding the report and responded by saying "No comment". At the time, the company is said to have paid $30 million for rights to the franchise. SmackDown started airing live in May 2016, increasing the value for advertising during the wrestling show.
SmackDown Live has aired on USA Network since July 2016, and it has been under the NBCUniversal umbrella dating back to 2010, when it was on Syfy. The show now garners the sixth-biggest audience among cable originals. This could be a very big deal pretty soon for a new network looking for a boost on Tuesday nights.
If it does play out this way, it's a dream scenario for WWE.