21st Century Fox VP & CFO John Nallen spoke about the new WWE SmackDown deal at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference this morning, according to The Wrap. Nallen called SmackDown on Fox a “really unique opportunity” for the network.
“It’s a 50 to 52-week-a-year sport with no repeats. It’s a new novella every week,” said Nallen, comparing it to the other sports that air on Fox, including college football, the NFL and MLB. “For us to have that kind of appointment programming, that audience, every week of the year, is a really unique opportunity for us.”
Disney is expected to close a deal to acquire most of 21st Century Fox’s film & TV assets during the first half of 2019. Fox will then be without a stream of content from an in-house studio as the sale includes Fox’s TV studio but not the Fox broadcast network. Fox will be banking on live sports to fill up a lot of their TV time and that’s where WWE will help out in a big way, along with their new Thursday Night Football deal. Nallen said that’s one of the biggest benefits of the deal for SmackDown: “To lock up a Friday night and just not have to focus on programming it from an entertainment standpoint.”
Fox is scheduled to begin airing SmackDown on Friday nights on October 4, 2019. WWE and Fox recently agreed to a five-year deal that is worth as much as $1 billion.