Fox is close to landing the broadcast rights for SmackDown Live on what's expected to be a five-year deal worth $1 billion - which will begin in the fall of 2019 as the show moves to Friday night time slots.
However, NBCU opted to retain the rights to broadcast Monday Night Raw, which will be around $265 million a year. NBC opted not to renew its broadcasting agreement with WWE, which gave Fox an opportunity they couldn't refuse.
But Fox's meeting with the WWE was rather interesting, to say the least. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch informed Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and other company officials that NBCU was "embarrassed by your product."
But in a more friendly tone, Murdoch told them Fox would "fully embrace WWE, with SmackDown promos airing across sports programming" on a nightly basis. The deal went smoothly from then on out, and Fox will add SmackDown Live to its arsenal of sports broadcasts - which includes a newly-signed deal for NFL Thursday Night Football.
Since it began airing 19 years ago, SmackDown Live has been broadcasted by five different networks. It began with UPN up until Sept. 2006, followed by The CW (for two years), MyNetworkTV (Oct. 2008 to Sept. 2010), SyFy (From Oct. 2010 to Dec. 2015), and USA Network (Jan. 2016 to present).
Fox will be taking a major risk moving SmackDown to Friday nights. The term "graveyard slot," refers to a time of the day when television audiences are small. Many television shows that look poised for cancellation are often moved to Friday evenings.
This isn't to say that SmackDown ratings will falter completely, but it's a risky move on Fox's end. But for WWE, money talks more than anything, so they're happy as long as they get their billion dollars.