WWE’s deal with NBC Universal expires in September 2019, and a decision is expected to be reached on where the company goes with its broadcasting rights between May and September of this year, according to WWE spokeswoman Annie Kruger in a statement released to Sporting News.
This report comes months after Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer dropped a bombshell on FOX’s discussions to obtain WWE television rights, or buy the company outright.
The latest out of those potential talks surrounds changes made to Monday Night Raw, moving from the current three-hour format back to a much more reasonable two-hour slot. It would also take Raw to local cable television, on the main Fox channel.
The move could be huge for WWE, adding the possibility to attract millions of additional viewers to its flagship show in the current cord-cutting landscape.
Smackdown Live would also see a shift to Fox Sports 1, according to the report. The move would likely mean the end of Fox’s UFC deal, meaning the network would need additional WWE programming to fill out Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2.
Speculating on what WWE could bring to those stations, there are plenty of options to fill out the network’s open slots. Re-airings of condensed versions or full-length episodes of Raw and Smackdown top the list, but it could also very well open spots NXT and 205 Live on television. Both start-ups have taken to touring, and at the very least NXT has developed a fan base dedicated enough to follow weekly episodes. Whether that means other classic programming, shows built to hype WWE’s big four premier shows or even a return of Saturday Night’s Main Event would remain to be seen.
Speculation on what WWE does next should only continue to heat up, especially following Colin Cowherd’s recent run-in with Fox executives by his side to Smackdown Live.