In an electrifying move that has wrestling fans buzzing with excitement, WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and NBCUniversal have announced a thrilling five-year domestic media rights partnership that will resurrect Friday Night SmackDown on the USA Network starting in October 2024.
To make this deal even more enticing, WWE will also begin producing four primetime specials annually for NBC, marking the first time that WWE will be showcased on the network during primetime hours.
In this article, we’ll dive into the details of this groundbreaking partnership, explore its impact on the wrestling landscape, and discover what it means for die-hard fans.
The Return of Friday Night SmackDown
Friday Night SmackDown has been a staple of television entertainment for wrestling enthusiasts for years. With its incredible roster of WWE Superstars, including legends like John Cena, Roman Reigns, Bianca Belair, Charlotte Flair, and Rey Mysterio, it has consistently dominated Friday nights, holding the title of the No. 1 show in the 18-49 advertising demographic.
WWE President Nick Khan conveyed his enthusiasm regarding the collaboration, mentioning, “NBCUniversal has been an exceptional partner of WWE for many years. We’re thrilled to prolong this enduring association by moving SmackDown to USA Network on Friday nights and anticipate introducing various WWE special events annually on NBC.”
NBCUniversal’s Thrill and Privilege
Frances Berwick, Chairman of NBCUniversal Entertainment, echoed the excitement, calling it a privilege and thrill to continue the decades-long partnership with WWE. This partnership has undoubtedly played a significant role in USA Network’s consistent position as the top-rated cable entertainment network regarding live viewership.
With the return of Friday Night SmackDown to USA, primetime specials on NBC, and the WWE hub on Peacock, NBCUniversal is set to cater to the passionate fanbase in ways never seen before.
USA Network’s Wrestling Dominance
This isn’t the first time that WWE has found a home on the USA Network. Currently, the network is home to WWE NXT and WWE Monday Night Raw, with the latter being the #2 cable entertainment program in the 18-49 demographic in 2023.
Demonstrating the deeply engaged WWE audience on USA, WWE NXT and WWE Monday Night Raw have witnessed impressive double-digit growth year-over-year in the target demographic. Fans can continue to catch their favorite wrestling action on USA Network through September 2024.
The Power of Peacock
Since 2021, Peacock has been the exclusive home of WWE Network in the U.S., allowing subscribers to stream thousands of hours of on-demand programming from WWE. This includes original series, groundbreaking documentaries, fan-favorite shows from the WWE archives, and premium live events like WrestleMania, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, and more.
Peacock has seen record-breaking usage, with WrestleMania 39’s livestream in April becoming its highest weekend usage. The partnership with WWE continues to be a significant driver of engagement on the platform.
A Glimpse of WWE
For those unfamiliar with WWE, it’s an integrated media organization and the global leader in sports entertainment, part of TKO Group Holdings, Inc. WWE produces and delivers original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience.
With its TV-PG programming available in over 1 billion homes worldwide in 25 languages, WWE has cemented its status as a global phenomenon. The award-winning WWE Network, now exclusively available on Peacock in the United States, includes premium live events, scheduled programming, and an extensive video-on-demand library.
NBCUniversal is a global media and entertainment powerhouse, known for creating world-class content and distributing it through film, television, and streaming platforms. Some of the most iconic brands in the entertainment industry fall under the NBCUniversal umbrella, including NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, USA Network, and the premium streaming service Peacock.
About TKO Group Holdings
TKO Group Holdings, Inc. is a premium sports and entertainment company that boasts UFC and WWE as key constituents. Together, these organizations reach over 1 billion TV households in around 170 countries and organize over 350 live events annually. TKO is majority-owned by Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc., a global sports and entertainment company.