The Hollywood Reporter is featuring a lengthy article examining the recent meeting between WWE and FOX to finalize a deal between both parties that would bring Smackdown Live to the broadcast network next year for an estimated $1.025 billion.
The article, by Marisa Guthrie, noted that a pitch meeting took place between WWE and FOX executives on May 17 at the 21st Century Fox’s Manhattan headquarters. FOX executives Eric Shanks, Larry Jones, Rupert Murdoch and CEO Lachlan Murdoch were part of the pitch, while WWE’s Paul “Triple H” Levesque, Stephanie McMahon, Michelle Wilson and George Barrios represented WWE at the meeting.
A photo of Ronda Rousey with Triple H on her shoulders from WrestleMania 34 was said to be projected on an “enormous TV screen” when WWE executives entered the room, along with Fox Sports and FS1 logos superimposed on the image. Around two and a half hours later, a deal was in play to bring Smackdown to FOX in what is expected to be a shift back to Friday night. Whether or not the show will remain airing live remains to be seen.
According to the article, FOX was “eager to acquire WWE’s programming” that includes Monday Night RAW and Smackdown Live. While NBC Universal opted to allow the rights to Smackdown go, they remained committed to Monday Night RAW paying an estimated $265 million per year. Murdoch, described as FOX’s 87-year-old patriarch, reportedly insisted during the pitch meeting that NBC was “embarrassed by your product.”
As reported earlier, the deal would present a big advertisement opportunity for WWE programming “every night of the week” including major NFL and MLB games. While not official, it would appear this may include a weekly studio show on FS1.
“Fox, he said, would fully embrace WWE, with SmackDown promos airing across sports programming every night of the week, along with a weekly studio show on FS1.”
While representatives for both WWE and FOX have still declined to comment, the new deal will see Smackdown begin airing live next October as part of a five-year deal.