Fox officially signs 5-year deal for WWE’s ‘SmackDown Live’

WWE’s “SmackDown Live” is officially a Fox Sports program and will air every Friday night on the Fox broadcast network beginning in October 2019 as part of a new five-year deal.

WWE also announced a five-year extension with NBCUniversal’s USA Network for “Monday Night Raw.”

In a letter to investors, the company said that its new distribution agreements with Fox and USA increase the average annual value of WWE’s U.S. distribution to 3.6 times that of the prior deal with NBCU.

WWE expects revenue from its key content agreements, including the U.S. deals, to grow to approximately $311 million in 2019, $435 million in 2020 and $462 million in 2021. The company noted that $79 million worth of content agreements in 2020 and $80 million in 2021 are subject to renewal between 2019 and 2021, and could either increase or decrease.

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In May, The Hollywood Reporter reported Fox was ready to pay as much as $1 billion for a five-year agreement with the WWE for “SmackDown Live.”

Earlier this year, Fox signed a five-year deal with the NFL for sole broadcast rights to Thursday Night Football. Combined with the WWE, Fox’s fall schedule in 2019 will feature a week heavily backloaded with sports entertainment.

“At Fox we are thrilled to welcome WWE to the Fox Sports family and bring SmackDown Live to broadcast television,” said Eric Shanks, president, COO and executive producer at Fox Sports, in a statement. “We are huge fans and know that together Fox Sports will be the leader in live events for the foreseeable future.”

“WWE and Fox are a perfect match,” said WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon in a statement. “Moving SmackDown Live to broadcast TV and having the ability to leverage Fox’s extensive portfolio of world-class sporting events will expand the reach of our flagship programming.”

WWE’s stock rose more than 5% as of 6:38 p.m. ET during afterhours trading.