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WWE’s ‘SmackDown’ to return to NBCUniversal’s USA Network in more than $1.4 billion deal

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Shinsuke Nakamura and Karrion Kross wrestle during the WWE SmackDown at Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot on May 5, 2023, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Gladys Vega | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

WWE’s “Friday Night SmackDown” will return to USA Network in October 2024 as part of a five-year domestic media rights partnership between TKO Group Holdings and NBCUniversal, WWE said Thursday.

Shares of TKO dropped more than 14% following the announcement.

The deal comes out to an average of $287 million per year, a total value of over $1.4 billion, people familiar with the matter told CNBC. WWE does not expect to reach a rights agreement for its flagship show “Raw” until next year.

“SmackDown” has been on Fox since October 2019, with a rights agreement for $205 million per year in a five-year deal. The new agreement is roughly a 40% increase. “SmackDown” last appeared on USA Network from 2016 to 2019.

WWE is a component of TKO Group Holdings, which was created after a merger between WWE and Endeavor‘s UFC. TKO began trading on the NYSE last week.

WWE will also produce four prime-time specials per year to air on NBC beginning in the 2024-2025 season.

“It’s a privilege and thrill to continue NBCU’s decades-long partnership with WWE which has helped cement USA Network’s consistent position as the top-rated cable entertainment network in live viewership,” said Frances Berwick, chairman of NBCUniversal Entertainment. “With Friday nights on USA, primetime specials on NBC, and the WWE hub on Peacock, we’ll continue to use the power of our portfolio to super-serve this passionate fanbase.”

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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