It appears that WWE has big plans for the next SmackDown rights negotiations which are likely to take place at the end of next year.
Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics, who does great work analysing the business side of pro-wrestling, has unpacked some recent comments from WWE President Nick Khan, suggesting SmackDown rights could go to Amazon or Apple instead of FOX.
Speaking with Wrestling Inc, Thurston said:
“I think the biggest takeaway is the hype that he added around the idea that Amazon and Apple might get into bidding for live sports rights. So I read that as a coded message to FOX. ‘We’re going to shop SmackDown somewhat aggressively when the deal comes up to be renegotiated. That’ll probably start to be renegotiated late next year 2022, and if previous rounds of negotiation are any indication, they’ll announce the deal maybe the spring of 2023. So it sounds like Nick Khan is saying, ‘We’re going to be really interested in negotiating and trying to get the best value possible for SmackDown’.
“I think Raw stays with NBCUniversal just because of how deep the relationship is between WWE and NBCUniversal with Raw, NXT and reality programming. But I think there’s a good chance that WWE will shop around SmackDown and maybe it goes to FOX, but maybe it goes to Amazon or Apple, who are among the biggest companies in the world and can certainly afford to pay a great deal of money if they’re looking to invest further in their streaming services (Prime and Apple TV) to get ahead in this competitive streaming space.”
SmackDown has been airing at 8pm ET on FOX since October 4, 2019, which was the first time WWE programming had aired on FOX since 1992.
Final viewership numbers for this past Friday have not yet been calculated, but the show drew 1.923 million viewers according to overnight numbers, despite the huge Roman Reigns vs Daniel Bryan main event.