U.S. Markets closed

Reports: Fox paying WWE $1 billion for 'Smackdown' TV rights

WWE’s “Smackdown” is reportedly moving to Fox starting in Fall 2019. (Photo courtesy of WWE)

WWE’s “Smackdown Live” television program will have a new home in 2019, according to new reports.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell was the first to report the agreement, which is scheduled to begin in October 2019.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the reported deal between WWE and Fox is for five years and worth approximately $205 million annually. The deal, which would total over $1 billion during its lifespan, is reportedly three times as much as the company was getting from NBC Universal for “Smackdown Live.”

It was reported last week that NBCU, whose networks have aired “Smackdown” since 2010, declined to renew its deal with WWE for the program, instead opting to focus on retaining the rights to the wrestling giant’s flagship show, “Monday Night Raw.”

Since that news broke, WWE’s stock has steadily risen amid speculation that a deal with Fox could be reached for “Smackdown Live.” Immediately following Rovell’s report, WWE stock again sharply rose, increasing by six percent.

Overall, WWE’s stock has risen more than 15 dollars per share since last Thursday.

As far as Fox is concerned, it is picking up a show that averaged 2.5 million viewers weekly in 2017, and now adds WWE to its portfolio of live programming – joining the NFL, MLB, and UFC.

While it remains to be seen where exactly “Smackdown Live” fits into the Fox programming picture, The Wrap reported that plans were being considered to move the show from its current Tuesday night slot to Friday.

Prior to its rebranding as “Smackdown Live” in 2016, the WWE show had been pre-taped and aired on both Thursdays and Fridays.

WWE declined to comment to Yahoo Sports for this story.