October 2019 is a big month for the WWE. For the first time in over a decade, professional wrestling will return to broadcast television when SmackDown Live moves from the USA channel to FOX. In June of this year, World Wrestling Entertainment and Fox Sports agreed to a massive 5 year deal worth about $1 Billion. This is a great opportunity for the WWE to further expand into mainstream sports and entertainment spaces because not only will SmackDown Live be on broadcast television every week, but with the departure of UFC in 2019, this will leave a good amount of space to fill, both on Fox and FS1/FS2 programming.
— Triple H (@TripleH) September 15, 2018
To capitalize on that, here are some things the WWE can do to maximize their deal as Fox Sports is looking at additional programming for their sports channel, FS1.
– Get more eyes on NXT
This is the obvious choice and one of the strong rumors when the move to Fox was announced. The smarter move here is to keep the weekly NXT show on the WWE Network, but having NXT specials on FS1, similar to UFCs Fight Night programs would be a great move. Set them up in Full Sail and promote the network heavily during these shows. The first NXT TakeOvers took place at Full Sail, stick with that same formula and have them once or twice a quarter and people will tune in.
– Saturday Night’s Main Event Reborn
Saturday nights on FOX are an open format. Some nights MLB Baseball, other nights college football, others MLS. Now the ‘Saturday Night’s Main Event looks to be making a return. Shortly after the new deal was announced, reports are abound that SNME will be returning for special events on Saturday nights. These should be special events, cross promotional, include NXT, make them fun for the performers and the audience.
– Use WWE Network content to promote WWE to casual viewers
The Network has a ton of great wrestling related, but not wrestling content. Shows like Breaking Ground, WWE Chronicle, and WWE24 look to be tailor made to introduce new and casual fans to how the WWE conducts business nowadays. This is solid programming that looks behind the curtain and gives a sense of weight to what these talented individuals put in, week after week, month after month.
– Cross Promote, Cross Promote, And Cross Promote
If the WWE does one thing well, aside from things in the squared circle, it’s promote their brand. FOX understands this, which is why FOX officials were at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and SummerSlam this year. It is why notable wrestling detractor and Fox Sports Radio staple Colin Cowherd attended a SmackDown Live show this past year. Triple H should be on Cowherd’s show (The Herd, which simulcasts on FS1) the week of SmackDown Live’s premiere promoting the WWE. WWE should work with FOX NFL Sunday (one of televisions highest rated pre-game shows) to promote the WWE. Moving to a new network is going to require a big push by WWE, and FOX wants to make sure the $1 Billion investment is worth it. Side note – Colin Cowherd had a great interview with Jim Ross last year, it is worth tracking down.