After plenty of speculation, Fox Sports is on the verge of buying the broadcasting rights for SmackDown Live from the WWE, according to a report from TheWrap.
The report outlines that Fox would begin broadcasting the show in fall of 2019, and that the show would shift to Friday night airings. WWE nor Fox would comment on the situation to TheWrap.
The Hollywood Reporter said last week that USA Network (part of NBCUniversal), was close to completing a new three-year deal with WWE to maintain their broadcasting rights of Monday Night Raw. But NBCUniversal chose not to sign a new contract for broadcasting SmackDown Live, which left the brand up for grabs.
Fox recently signed a $550 million TV deal to air the NFL Thursday Night Football games, and they're in the midst of a mega contract to broadcast MLB playoff games. Now, they add WWE to their arsenal.
Entering this week, SmackDown Live has broadcast 978 episodes since debuting in 1999. The show has seen a handful of changes in broadcasting partners. UPN ran it from its inception until Sept. 2006. After that, The CW picked it up for two years, followed by MyNetwork TV from Oct. 2008 to Sept. 2010.
Finally, SyFy ran it for five years from Oct. 2010 to Dec. 2015. USA Network had broadcast the show since Jan. 7, 2016, but now they're on the verge of relinquishing it to Fox.
Though SmackDown Live has been broadcast on Tuesday nights under USA Network, but the show has previously aired on Thursday and Friday evenings. Obviously, moving the show out of its Tuesday slot for Friday is a risk for Fox, but they're clearly confident WWE fans will tune in on the weekend to watch the blue brand.
We'll be sure to bring more information and contract details when they become available.