WWE ‘Smackdown Live’ may have a new television home in the very near future.
According to a report from the Hollywood Reporter, NBCUniversal — the owner of the USA Network — is making a significant offer to WWE to keep ‘Raw’ on their network but plan on letting ‘Smackdown Live’ go to another bidder.
NBCUniverse is expected to pay around three times what they are currently dishing out to WWE to keep Raw on the USA Network on Monday nights where it’s not only one of the longest running episodic show in television history but also still a ratings juggernaut from week to week on the network.
As of now, FOX appears to be leading the bidding war to land ‘Smackdown Live’ as the network has long coveted the WWE as a potential partner for the future. Just recently, FOX sold off the majority of their assets to Disney with the focus at the network then shifting to around 80-percent live programming.
FOX landed a deal NFL Thursday Night Football just recently and the addition of ‘Smackdown Live’ would give the network a potent one-two punch for live programming during the week.
‘Smackdown Live’ boasts the sixth biggest audience amongst cable originals and will likely fetch a high asking price of its own now that its expected to hit the open market with NBC bowing out of the bidding.
As for NBC, the network has also been interested in potentially obtaining the remaining television rights to the UFC after the mixed martial arts promotion just recently signed a $750 million deal with ESPN for 15 live cards a year to air on ESPN+. NBC nearly landed the UFC back in 2011 before FOX swooped in with an offer at the 11th hour to become the exclusive home to the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion.
Whether or not NBC’s potential interest in the UFC had anything to do with only keeping one of the WWE properties rather than both is unknown at this time.
For now, ‘Smackdown Live’ will begin looking for suitors who are interested in teaming up with WWE with the deal reportedly kicking off in September.