As noted earlier, WWE will be moving to Fox next year as part of a “massive” money deal. The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the deal for Smackdown is for 5 years at $1 billion ($205 million annually). That is certainly a massive deal and way above what they are currently getting combined for Raw and Smackdown with NBCUniversal.
THR reports that the Fox deal is nearing completion and it is expected to begin in October 2019. WWE had a higher bid from a third party (based on previous reports, it’s believed to be Facebook or Amazon) but WWE opted for the Fox deal because the network has committed to heavily promote Smackdown across their programming that includes the NFL and Major League Baseball.
NBCUniversal will retain Raw on Monday Nights and Smackdown is expected to move to Friday nights. Smackdown’s value increased when the show became a live show on Tuesday nights in January 2016. It’s not known yet if the show will keep the live format when it moves to Friday nights.
Smackdown has the sixth biggest audience on cable television among original shows. The live format is attractive to many networks and the production costs would pale in comparison to what WWE is getting from Fox so it’s possible that the show will stay live every week.