WWE Surges on Reports That Fox Will Begin Airing ‘SmackDown’

(Bloomberg) -- World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. shares reached a record high on reports that 21st Century Fox Inc.’s Fox network will become the new home for “SmackDown Live,” one of the company’s signature shows.

The wrestling brand agreed in principle to air the show on Fox, beginning in October 2019, ESPN reported on Monday. The program is currently aired by Comcast Corp.’s USA Network, which also broadcasts the WWE show “Raw.”

The five-year deal is valued at more than $1 billion, the Hollywood Reporter said, and shows WWE is wringing more lucrative terms for its programming lineup. The transaction would represent a more than threefold increase over the terms paid by Comcast’s NBC Universal, the publication said.

The stock climbed as much as 13 percent to $58.26, the highest level since it began trading in 1999. The shares had already risen by more than two-thirds this year.

WWE, based in Stamford, Connecticut, declined to comment.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.