WWE Raw reportedly staying with NBCU, Smackdown's future undecided

Adjust Comment Print

According to THR, the weekly professional wrestling program - which features former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion and #1 Contender for the Raw Women's Championship Ronda Rousey and former UFC Heavyweight Champion and reigning WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar - is the apparent focus of NBCU's efforts to keep the WWE in the company's family. They added that Fox is a potential suitor for Smackdown, a network that had been rumored for months for Raw as well.

The last time WWE negotiated a new rights deal in 2014, the company made a decision to re-sign with NBC Universal to continue airing Raw and SmackDown on USA Network and SyFy respectively.

Belloni reported NBCUniversal is allowing WWE Smackdown Live to go to open bidding, but RAW would remain with the network. WWE's final decision on the deal is reportedly planned to be announced sometime during the summer.

It has been long rumored that FOX had been looking to acquire both WWE RAW and WWE Smackdown once the wrestling company's current contract expires.

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. It marked the first time that the top three shows were broadcast on the same network. At the time, US aired five hours of live WWE programming a week; WWE programming now airs two nights a week on USA. 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. Throughout much of its existence, SmackDown has been seen as secondary to Raw, no matter how much WWE would do to present the two shows as equal.