With WWE’s television contract coming up in 2019, there is plenty of speculation that shows may be switching networks with Fox and other platforms potentially becoming the new home for either Raw or SmackDown Live. A recent report makes it sound like SmackDown Live might be on the move. The Hollywood Reporter‘s Matthew Belloni reported Wednesday that NBCUniversal is willing to lose the television rights to SmackDown Live but will work to keep Raw on the USA Network and still have a relationship with WWE.
This would mean WWE shopping the Tuesday night show to other networks but keeping Raw where it is solely because splitting them up could mean bigger profits. According to Belloni, WWE and NBCUniversal are working on a TV rights deal for only Raw that would triple the value of their current contract. This would then allow WWE to shop the blue brand to whoever comes in at the highest value. Thanks to a report by Sporting News’ Michael McCarthy, it sounds like Fox might be in the running on this deal as well with Raw on Fox and SmackDown Live on FS1. That could explain why USA is willing to pay so much for Raw to stay right where it’s at.
People worried that this type of move might mess with ratings or confuse viewers who are used to watching both show on one network, WWE isn’t worried about it knowing how good they are steering their viewers where they need to. They’ve done so before and their digital platforms and strong presence on social media and other channels make it easy to keep their fans up to date.
This could also mean a bigger distinction between shows and a larger difference for the viewing audience who would love to see each show really stand on its own. Internally, it could mean more competition between shows in an effort to outdo each other for ratings.