WWE Rumors: SmackDown Live for Sale to New Network; Fox Interested

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 16: Vince McMahon attends a press conference to announce that WWE Wrestlemania 29 will be held at MetLife Stadium in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)
Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images

NBCUniversal is willing to lose the television rights to SmackDown Live while maintaining its relationship with WWE to air Raw on USA Network, The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni reported Wednesday.

According to Belloni, WWE and NBCUniversal are working on a TV rights deal for Raw that would triple the value of their current contract, so NBCUniversal would then allow SmackDown Live to go to the highest bidder.

Sporting News' Michael McCarthy reported in March that Fox was looking to acquire the rights for Raw and SmackDown Live, with Raw potentially airing on network television and SmackDown Live going to FS1.

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.

While splitting up Raw and SmackDown Live would disrupt the continuity WWE has enjoyed with having both on USA Network, a move could be beneficial.

Different networks can have distinct viewerships. As such, WWE would potentially want to tailor SmackDown Live for a new demographic, which in turn could mean Raw and SmackDown Live adopting identities specific to their respective networks.

Especially after the brand extension in 2016, it wouldn't hurt to create more separation between WWE's two biggest weekly programs.

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