wwe

WWE’s TV rights may be heading to the open market

You may not find WWE programming on NBC channels much longer. NBC's exclusive negotiating period with WWE ended last week, and the New York Post is reporting that NBC has a deadline of this Friday, February 14th, to accept WWE's final offer for their broadcast rights.

If the two companies part ways, where could Raw and SmackDown! end up? Fox is continually mentioned as a possible landing spot, but I don't think it makes much sense after Fox's cable rebranding last August. Fox Sports 1's schedule would become more cramped giving up live events on Monday and Friday nights to make room for Raw and SmackDown. Fox Sports 2 doesn't have nearly enough national carriage to make a deal worthwhile for either party, and I doubt WWE programming would be the turning point in getting more providers to pick up the network. FX, FXX, and FXM have all rebranded to drama, comedy, and movie networks, and I don't think WWE would fit in well on any of the three.

What about the Disney family of networks? The ESPN networks don't seem like much of a match considering their massive slate of live sports (imagine moving Monday Night Football or Monday college basketball to ESPN2 for Raw – or imagine Raw on ESPN2. Neither would happen), but Disney owns numerous other channels that could be good fits, like the A&E family of networks (owned in part with Hearst). A Duck Dynasty marathon followed by three hours of Raw? It's a perfect match! However, I can see WWE trying to get away from the "redneck" stigma that has been stuck to their company for years.

But I think the best landing spot for WWE programming is a company they've had dealings with in the past – Viacom. Spike's ratings have lagged since the UFC left for Fox at the end of 2011. The contract for Impact Wrestling, which Spike has aired since 2005, ends this October. Bringing back WWE for Raw and SmackDown! would necessitate a move of struggling MMA property Bellator, but anything Viacom could do to get them a solid lead-in or onto another night would only be a good thing. Plus, Viacom also owns MTV and Nickelodeon, which would allow WWE to tap into non-wrestling fans and the youth viewer that they claim their business is targeting.

Viacom really does seem like the best fit for WWE, and while we don't know where they'll be landing yet, I'd probably lean that way if their run with NBC is truly over.

[New York Post]

Joe Lucia

About Joe Lucia

Managing editor of Awful Announcing. News editor of The Comeback. Managing editor of The Outside Corner. You guessed it - not actually Frank Stallone.

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