WWE media rights will be a hot topic of discussion as the preeminent wrestling company in the United States continues to smash gate records and boost its television ratings year-over-year. The company will likely have many bidders for its flagship television shows: Monday Night Raw, NXT, and Friday Night Smackdown. ESPN could potentially emerge as one of those bidders for WWE, representing a significant shift in the industry.
ESPN President of Content Burke Magnus joined The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch for Deitsch’s podcast series. The sports media reporter asked Magnus about WWE and the potential for a deal while he was on the most recent episode.
POST Wrestling quoted Magnus as saying, “I think it continues to be — I guess from a glass half-full perspective, I’d say I believe our companies — and this changed a couple of years ago, so this is not breaking news but I believe our point of view towards WWE as a potential distribution outlet for their events, I think we passed that a long time ago and I think we’re now in the bucket of, hey, if their rights are available and there’s a deal for us that works and a deal for them that works with us, I think it’s certainly a possibility.
Magnus continued, “There’s no hesitation anymore from a brand perspective or from a live event versus scripted. Their fans and our viewers, there’s tremendous overlap, so, to me, it’s just about the business of it and is there something that works.”
Earlier this year, a report emerged that Disney could be a bidder for WWE media rights, but the shows would go to FX, not the Worldwide Leader. ESPN and WWE have developed a strong rapport with each other, so time will tell to see if anything comes to fruition.