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FOX originally wanted the TV rights to WWE Raw instead of SmackDown

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WWE signed big-money deals with FOX and NBC Universal for the television rights to Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown. WWE’s deal with FOX started in October 2019 for SmackDown while NBCU, the parent company of the USA Network, retained the rights to Raw.

Dave Meltzer noted on today’s Wrestling Observer Radio that FOX originally wanted Raw as for years, SmackDown was considered the "B" show of the company. However, the USA Network had the first right of refusal to match any offer FOX made.

“You know WWE got that big increase, but it was a unique situation because it was multiple bidders. The deal was FOX wanted Raw, not SmackDown. USA had the right to match any offer, and so they matched the offer that FOX bid for Raw. And then FOX, at that point, wanted SmackDown.And at that point, USA had spent so much money on Raw, it was just kind of like, ‘We’re not going to match you for SmackDown,’ but that’s how the numbers went way up.”

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Ever since SmackDown started airing on FOX, it has been viewed as the “A” show ahead of Raw because FOX reaches a larger audience as it’s on broadcast television instead of cable.

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit Wrestling Observer Radio with a h/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription. A WrestlingObserver.com subscription includes the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and daily audio shows in addition to thousands of hours of archived audio shows.