WWE’s 'Smackdown' To Depart CW

CW will have its final WWE Friday Night SmackDown at the end of the 2007-08 TV season.

World Wrestling Entertainment said that CW's exclusive negotiating window expired on Jan. 31 and it is now pursuing deals with other networks.

WWE in December renewed its contract with USA Network for WWE Monday Night Raw, long one of cable’s highest-rated series, through 2010. The pact also calls for WWE to produce weekend show A.M. Raw for USA, proffer a Spanish-language iteration of Raw for broadcaster Telemundo, and air a pair of late-night Saturday shows on NBC,

WWE also runs grappling fare on the characters network’s sister service, Sci Fi Channel, which extended its WWE pact through 2008.

Male-targeted Spike TV aired WWE Monday Night Raw for five years, before the show returned to USA in October 2005, a move that helped push the service to the top of the ad-supported cable ratings.

“After a successful decade of SmackDown on both UPN and The CW, World Wrestling Entertainment and The CW have agreed to conclude our partnership,” the Stamford, Conn.-based WWE said in a statement. “Since The CW's exclusive negotiation period ran out on Jan. 31, we have been contacted and have been in negotiations with other networks.

WWE SmackDown will continue to air on The CW until the conclusion of the 2007-08 broadcast season. We are grateful to Les Moonves, Dawn Ostroff, and their entire organization for bringing WWE SmackDown to millions of viewers for so many years.” 

Smackdown was a UPN staple, before it merged with The WB, to form CW.

WWE officials didn’t return phone calls by press time.