1. If you’re a WWE fan, the way you consume Monday Night Raw and SmackDown is going to change.
It was announced Thursday that SmackDown will be moving from Fox to USA Network in 2024.
Fox had paid WWE $205 million for the rights to SmackDown. WWE got a nice bump in its new deal with USA Network, which is reportedly forking over $287 million for SmackDown, which will continue to air on Friday nights.
As part of the new deal, SmackDown will also air four prime-time specials on NBC.
As for Raw, a new television deal won’t be announced any time soon. It will most likely happen in 2024, but it’s very hard to see Raw remaining on USA Network now that it’s acquired SmackDown.
USA pays WWE $265 million for Monday Night Raw. That figure will most likely get into the $300 million range, and there are plenty of players who will pay it. Streaming services like Amazon and Apple would love to acquire live WWE programming. Disney has been rumored to have interest in Raw, and there could be surprise bidders, such as The CW.
Nobody knows where Raw will end up, but it’s hard to believe in this day and age that the company won’t partner up with a streaming service.
The other change I would expect is Raw moving off Mondays. The WWE has to deal with stiff competition on Mondays during the NFL season. While WWE fans are conditioned to watch Raw on Mondays, where it has aired forever, they will easily follow it to Tuesdays or Thursdays.
One of the many reasons why the WWE is a hot property when it comes to TV rights is that the fan base is loyal and consistent. Another reason is that unlike pro sports, the WWE does not have an offseason. WWE provides 52 straight weeks of live programming every single year. Any company who lands the rights to Raw knows exactly what it’s going to get in terms of ratings and programming.
2. A brand-new SI Media With Jimmy Traina podcast came out Thursday morning, and it features a conversation with Kevin Clark, who now hosts This Is Football for ESPN and Omaha Productions.
Clark talks about why he recently made the move from The Ringer to ESPN, whether he will continue to write and how sports media has changed since COVID-19.
Other topics covered with Clark include the possible Travis Kelce–Taylor Swift romance, changes he’d like to see networks make for NFL coverage, Bill Belichick’s personality, what we know after two weeks of the NFL season and much more.
Following Clark, Sal Licata from WFAN radio and SNY TV in New York joins me for our weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment. This week, we discuss Week 2 of NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube, ESPN’s curious assignments for Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, Sean McVay’s decision to kick a meaningless field goal and upset a lot of bettors, and HBO cancelling Winning Time. Plus, I make an announcement regarding Apple reviews.
You can also watch SI Media With Jimmy Traina on YouTube.
3. Everything seemed to be going perfectly for Deion Sanders—until this morning. The Colorado coach had an encounter with a mouse, and he wasn’t having it.
4. Nick Castellanos provided us with two great moments on Wednesday during Philadelphia’s 6–5 win in Atlanta. There was a fan who caught Castellanos’s home run ball while holding a baby, and there was the Philly broadcast crew doing a 180 on a play made by the outfielder.
A Braves fan catches Nick Castellanos' home run while holding his child, puts her down, and throws it back. pic.twitter.com/f8wrI8an6H— Baseball GIFs (@gifs_baseball) September 20, 2023
John Kruk during Castellanos' game-saving play in the 9th:— Barstool Philly (@BarstoolPhilly) September 20, 2023
"Let it go! Let it go! Let it go!"
5. We need more broadcasters being as honest as the Giants’ Duane Kuiper.
Duane Kuiper: "We'll continue this conversation when we get back. D-Backs are coming up...I gotta pee." pic.twitter.com/ZA7bLp3NQ9— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) September 20, 2023
6. A brand-new SI Media Mailbag came out Thursday morning. Among the topics covered: ABC/ESPN’s Monday Night Football experiment, getting rid of the bottom-line tickers, ESPN NY vs. WFAN, betting sites giving refunds and more.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Most people associate the Braves-Mets game that took place on Sept. 21, 2001—the first sporting event that took place in New York after the World Trade Center tragedy—with Mike Piazza’s home run.
I was at Shea Stadium for that game, and Liza Minnelli came out to sing “New York, New York.” It was a truly wonderful moment that kept building and building, as you’ll see.