Report: WWE, FOX Network Relationship "Strained"
SmackDown has aired on the network for almost two years
An in-depth report from Fightful Select indicates some strain between WWE and the FOX Network, home to WWE SmackDown since October 2019.
Speaking with sources close to the WWE/FOX relationship, Fightful learned from one source that WWE viewership numbers were "disappointing" when compared to what expectations were. However, they did note that the pandemic and its effects were unforeseen when the deal was signed, and that SmackDown is still the most watched wrestling program in the world.
Nonetheless, it's still difficult to gauge where the numbers will ultimately level out, and that the current viewership numbers are considered a disappointment when compared to expectations.
One FOX source stated that they're not "over the moon" about constantly having to promote the NBC-owned Peacock streaming service, home to WWE's monthly pay-per-views. However, other sources indicate that this hasn't really been a problem, due to WWE talents receiving heavy promotion on other FOX programs in the run-up to SummerSlam last month.
The report notes the returns of John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Becky Lynch over the summer months, all major stars and all to the SmackDown brand. FOX sources believe WWE is going "above and beyond" to stack their brand's roster since the return of crowds.
Fightful Select's story also notes that plans for an upcoming Raw taping in Los Angeles (the home base for FOX) were scrapped by Vince McMahon and Nick Khan, in favor of giving Los Angeles a SmackDown taping instead, which is slated for December 10.