The question about if Fox will get the rights to SmackDown Live appears to be all but answered. While no official announcement has been made, stock prices are soaring, shareholders are rejoicing and WWE is already talking about putting shows like WrestleMania 35 on network television instead of pay-per-view. It appears WWE to Fox is actually happening and its a matter of when WWE tells everyone, not if.
But, outside of the massive amount of money WWE stands to make from their new partnership, what will really happen with the WWE and their shows after the deal starts to show itself each week on TV? What kind of windfall or dominos come from this new deal?
The idea here is to predict what might happen to WWE, SmackDown Live, Raw and any other brands if the Fox deal is real. We have a few ideas.
You may be asking, "what do you mean everything changes? It's only a single show moving to a new network. It's not like WWE hasn't done this before." True. But, to this scale, WWE has not done this before and it's bound to open new doors and trigger new cells in the brains of people who make decisions in WWE. If more of these billion-dollar deals are out there, WWE is going to find ways to attract them.
Take WrestleMania for example. With the rumors WWE is exploring the idea of WrestleMania being sold to the highest TV bidder, they clearly see an opening as far as TV revenue is concerned. That could change how they offer their shows to the WWE Universe. The WWE Network was the number one source of revenue for WWE, making more than $200 million per year for the company. Is it now? Fox's deal alone is rumored to be worth $205 million per year.
If WWE is even thinking about taking WrestleMania off of pay-per-view, then they might be considering eliminating traditional pay-per-views altogether.
Fox May Look At More WWE Programming
Rumors were Fox wanted both Raw and SmackDown Live. WWE chose to keep Raw on NBCUniversal. There were also rumors Fox was working on a deal with UFC that wasn't getting done. UFC is out, WWE is in and Fox may go all-in with as much WWE programming as they can get, including adding another show on another night.
Would WWE consider moving NXT to Fox? If the money is right, it would make sense to do so. It would be a huge platform for NXT, allow WWE to fill that then-vacant spot on the WWE Network with a new brand and all parties make money at the same time. NXT is a brand WWE can sell. Maybe they convince Fox to try it out.
NBCUniversal Will Have to Pony Up
Now that WWE has proven there are multiple networks willing to pay big money for WWE programming, it's going to cost NBCUniversal so much more money than the network has ever paid in the past to keep Raw. In a way, WWE has them over a barrel.
If NBC was willing to lose SmackDown Live just to afford to keep Raw, imagine what they'll do to not lose it again five years down the road? NBC may also be considering other ways to get more wrestling on their network with SmackDown Live now gone and that could include prime-time specials and other programming.
The counter-argument to this is that WWE needs to keep ratings strong if NBCUniversal is going to continue to pay that kind of money.
RELATED: FOX'S SMACKDOWN LIVE DEAL IS MASSIVE
What's Old Is New?
If WWE is thinking there is more money to be made in TV revenue and this Fox deal has opened their eyes to what's possible, could they be tossing around ideas that fans would jump all over? The revival of WCW, ECW or the purchasing of other independent promotions come to mind.
Should WWE be able to build other brands successfully on WWE Network, they immediately fill a spot for original programming, have the money to produce the shows and could be creating another brand that could be sold to a TV network down the road.
This Fox deal has proven there is a desire for wrestling on TV. It could mean WWE does more to produce a variety of wrestling options and create more brands for networks to bid over. The healthy competition by TV networks will only breed competition between the brands and that's great for fans who haven't had real competition among wrestling promotions in over a decade.