Friday Night SmackDown, which currently runs on Fox broadcasting, aired on NBCUniversal-owned USA Network from 2016 to 2019. The series has performed well for Fox, regularly rating as the top-rated show in the 18-49 viewer demographic, according to the WWE.
Along with pinning down SmackDown rights, USA Network will produce four primetime specials per year that will air on NBC, according to the network.
USA Network currently airs the WWE's Monday Night Raw and WWE NXT series, but those rights are set to expire in 2024.
The WWE's deal with NBCUniversal's Peacock streaming service, which includes the wrestling organization's pay-per-view events, ends in 2026.
“It’s a privilege and thrill to continue NBCU’s decades-long partnership with WWE which has helped cement USA Network’s consistent position as the top-rated cable entertainment network in live viewership” said NBCU Entertainment president Frances Berwick said in a statement. “With Friday nights on USA, primetime specials on NBC, and the WWE hub on Peacock, we’ll continue to use the power of our portfolio to super-serve this passionate fanbase.”
WWE President Nick Khan added: “NBCUniversal has been a tremendous partner of WWE for decades. We are excited to extend this longstanding relationship by bringing SmackDown to USA Network on Friday nights and look forward to debuting multiple WWE special events annually on NBC.”
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.