Fox CEO Addresses WWE Sale, SmackDown's Upcoming Media Rights Negotiations

Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch spoke at a Morgan Stanley investor conference on Thursday and the subject of WWE was discussed. The company is currently actively pursuing a sale, and while Fox was often listed as a potential bidder because of its current media rights deal to air Friday Night SmackDown on FOX, it was often placed behind Comcast, Amazon and Netflix due to its lack of a streaming service to house the WWE Network library and live pay-per-view feed. Murdoch didn't give any indication that Fox was in the running, saying he hopes they find a good partner in whoever acquires them.

The subject of SmackDown's TV rights was also brought up. The billion-dollar deal between the two companies that brought the Blue Brand to network television was signed in June 2018 for five years, starting on Oct. 4, 2019. With the deal set to expire in 2024, negotiations on a new deal are expected to begin later this year. Murdoch noted the decision on whether or not to renew that deal will depend on the performance of the company's overall sports portfolio, which includes the NFL, NCAA College Football and the MLB. 

Who Will Buy WWE?

The Sports Business Journal's John Ourand predicted back in December that NBCUniversal's parent company Comcast would attempt to buy WWE after pushing to get the rights to all three of WWE's weekly TV products. But then CNBC's David Faber reported last month that he was hearing Comcast was out of the running for a sale, even as WWE CEO Nick Khan tried to push back.

"I think they're all possible and we're still bullish on Comcast being possible," Khan responded. "Obviously, there's only so much I can say at this moment. But we certainly got a warm reaction in the marketplace from people who seem interested."

WWE WrestleMania 39 Card (As of Now)

  • Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes
  • United States Championship: Austin Theory vs. John Cena
  • SmackDown Women's Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley
  • Raw Women's Championship: Bianca Belair vs. Asuka
  • Brock Lesnar vs. Omos
  • Intercontinental Championship: Gunther vs. TBD
  • Seth Rollins vs. Logan Paul
  • Becky Lynch, Lita & Trish Stratus vs. Damage CTRL