WWE is coming off a pretty good month having made some spicy deals for Monday Night RAW and SmackDown Live with NBCUniversal and Fox respectively. Now comes word that the sports entertainment giant is looking at selling digital rights for both programs.
One industry analyst says WWE could potentially sell the digital rights to RAW and SmackDown and get a good premium for both. When NBCUniversal passed on paying for SmackDown, both Facebook and Amazon were reportedly interested in bidding, but eventually, Fox swooped in to televise the program starting in fall of 2019.
WWE, which has been ahead of the curve in digital streaming with its over the top WWE Network, could join the NFL in selling digital packages to either Amazon or Facebook. BTIG analyst Brandon Ross says selling to Facebook would be the best fit for WWE based on its existing Facebook Watch platform:
“We believe Facebook is the best place for these digital rights, as we have said for nearly a year,” wrote Ross in a research note. “WWE has built a passionate community around its content, and Facebook’s interactive Watch platform allows fans the differentiated opportunity to interact while consuming the content. This has been validated by the success of Mixed Match Challenge on Facebook.”
Amazon has been aggressive in its digital sports strategy, buying the rights to NFL’s Thursday Night Football last year and renewing for another two years just last month. It also has rights to tennis’ ATP Tour in the United Kingdom, and is looking to continue expand its live sports portfolio . Getting rights to RAW and/or SmackDown would fit, but it would have to get past Facebook if WWE chooses to sell its rights.
Right now, this is all speculation, but in the coming weeks, observers will be closely watching WWE to see if it goes for more money. If it does, it should expect some very rich suitors to come knocking at its door.