FOX and the WWE have announced a five-year deal for the rights to WWE SmackDown Live, which will air on FOX beginning fall 2019.
“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 FOX Sports. “We are huge fans and know that together FOX Sports will be the leader in live events for the foreseeable future.”
Added Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO: “Fox and WWE are a perfect match. 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.”
The news comes as FOX is in the process of rebuilding itself with the Disney merger looming. On the precipice of having no sister studio, the network will be pivoting away from scripted content and headed toward a schedule dominated by sports, reality television, and news content. As such, the 2018-19 season will be the last we see FOX look something like itself, with next May’s upfronts likely to be a scripted bloodbath for them once again.
What will be interesting to see is what this means for Last Man Standing. FOX bent over backwards to revive the ABC-aired series due to Roseanne‘s success and their desire for a broader comedy brand, but with the show reverting back to Disney upon the merger, they won’t own it. Even if they renew it, SmackDown will be two hours every Friday, so Last Man would have to be on the move.
This will be the fifth network for WWE SmackDown Live, which has aired on UPN, The CW, Syfy, and USA, the latter of which where it currently resides.