ESPN Seriously Considered Acquiring Smackdown Live


As we’ve discussed plenty of times, Fox made a deal with WWE a year ago to begin airing Smackdown Live. The show that currently airs on Tuesday nights on USA will move this fall to Friday nights on Fox. WWE having shows on two different channels that aren’t owned by the same company hasn’t happened in a long time, so it may lead to some interesting choices along the way. In the meantime, news has come out that Smackdown could have been moving to a different channel entirely, owned by Walt Disney no less.

In an interview with The Wrap, Burke Magnus, the Executive Vice President of Programming and Scheduling at ESPN, says that at the time his sports network seriously considered buying the rights to air Smackdown, but ultimately ESPN couldn’t fit it into their tightly booked schedule.

We did talk to WWE during their process some months ago. Took a hard look at it, we’re obviously big fans of them. We just went into business with them on the XFL indirectly. But we couldn’t find a fit for it, primarily based on schedule As you know, those properties are 52 weeks a year live, and I’m proud to say we have a pretty good problem, which is that we can’t clear anything 52 weeks a year live. We have a pretty full portfolio of content as it is.

Whether Smackdown would have been better or worse off on ESPN (we don’t even know what it will be like on Fox yet), it’s interesting to know what a prize it was viewed as.