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WWE’s ‘Smackdown’ moving to Syfy

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Syfy Channel has pinned a deal for ‘Smackdown.’

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc’s ‘Smackdown,’ which for years was a mainstay on the UPN and CW networks before moving to News Corp.'s My Network TV, is now headed to NBC Universal’s Syfy Channel, people close to the situation said. A deal, which will be announced later this week, further solidifies the growing relationship between NBC Universal and Vince McMahon’s WWE. Syfy already carries the show ‘NXT,’ which is a reality program featuring wannabe wrestlers trying to make it to the big leagues of WWE. NBC Universal’s USA cable channel also carries WWE programming including ‘WWE Raw.’

Although terms were not disclosed, My Network TV was shelling out roughly $20 million a year for ‘Smackdown.’ Syfy’s price tag is believed to be closer to $30 million a year.

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Although ‘Smackdown’ is more than 10 years old, it still does very well with men, particularly the 18-34 demographic, and generally averages about 3.5 million viewers overall. ‘Smackdown’ will continue to air on Friday nights when it moves to Syfy later this year, most likely in either late September or early October.

WWE is still looking to launch its own cable network, probably sometime in 2011. This latest deal with NBC Universal is another sign that the two could end up partnering on such a channel. WWE chief Vince McMahon has close relationships with NBC Universal brass, particularly Dick Ebersol, who oversees all sports programming for the company. Just a few weeks ago, Ebersol took part in an induction ceremony for broadcaster Bob Uecker into the WWE’s hall of fame, which was also broadcast as a special on the USA Network.

-- Joe Flint


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