We’ve all watched WWE programming and wondered whether or not anyone is embarrassed by what’s happening. But of course, despite that, the WWE machine keeps plugging away, airing approximately five million hours of original programming every week on the WWE Network and USA.
That last thing is slated to change, though, as WWE Smackdown is preparing to move to Fox in a gigantic deal worth more than $1 billion over the course of five years. Thanks to The Hollywood Reporter, we got some more information on how Fox managed to pull this move off.
As it turns out, Fox executive and noted person who you probably haven’t thought of in a while but whose name makes you mad Rupert Murdoch was instrumental in the move. Murdoch made it clear to WWE that, by moving to Fox, they’d be on a network that isn’t embarrassed of the company.
NBCU had the right to match any offer of $200 million or less per year, but decided not to pursue SmackDown and focus instead on keeping Raw, which averages 3 million viewers and features A-list superstars including John Cena. Fox came in with $205 million, but the company was offering more than cash. The elder Murdoch insisted NBCU was “embarrassed by your product.” Fox, he said, would fully embrace WWE, with SmackDown promos airing across sports programming every night of the week, along with a weekly studio show on FS1. More than that, the deal, Lachlan Murdoch told McMahon during a private call at the end of the meeting, would herald the marriage of the Murdochs and the McMahons, rebel outsiders who had built media empires.
It’s easy to see how “we’ll make you a bigger deal and won’t be embarrassed by you” would appeal to someone as competitive as McMahon, and giving WWE more of a presence in the form of a weekly studio show is quite the pitch. At the very least, it’s obvious that WWE’s relationship with Fox will be more than a two-hour live show once a week.
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)