WWE television won't be going anywhere, as the company announced that it has renewed its partnership with NBCUniversal and will continue airing Raw on USA Network and SmackDown on Syfy.
WWE's chairman and chief executive officer Vince McMahon provide the following statement via the company's release:
We are proud to continue our long-standing partnership with NBCUniversal given their premiere position in the marketplace and vast promotional platforms. We are excited about our future as we further the reach and popularity of our live, family-friendly entertainment programming 52 weeks a year.
WWE also disclosed terms of the agreements across multiple countries in another press release (via BusinessWire.com):
Over the past six months, the Company has negotiated television distribution agreements in the U.S., U.K. and Thailand, and is in the midst of discussions regarding the distribution of WWE content in India.3 The Company estimates that it will increase the average annual value of these key television agreements to approximately $200 million, representing an increase of more than $90 million, that is nearly three times (3x) the increase achieved in the previous round of negotiations.
Variety's Marc Graser reported back in February that WWE and NBCU failed to reach a deal during what was their exclusive negotiating window. That opened the door for other networks to step in and make a bid, but NBCU still retained the right to match any deal.
Fox Sports' Clay Travis thought that WWE would be an attractive product for companies trying to match ESPN in the ratings department:
Despite the minor roadblock between WWE and NBCU, it's no surprise that the two sides came together to continue what has been a long-standing and fruitful partnership.
The USA Network first aired Raw when it debuted in 1993 and up until 2000. Then, in 2005, NBCU again picked up the rights for WWE's flagship show.
As former WWE announcer Jim Ross also pointed out, Raw gives USA and NBCU a strong ratings performer on what is becoming a more and more competitive night of TV programming:
According to Graser, one of the main sticking points between the two sides has been how long it would take for broadcasts to be available on mobile devices and the WWE Network.
The finer details of the deal haven't been revealed, but it's a safe bet that the WWE Network will continue to play a large role in the company's programming, including its flagship program.
Wrestling fans will likely welcome this news, as it means that Raw and SmackDown won't be changing channels anytime soon. There has been little to complain about regarding the way in which both USA and Syfy have handled their respective wrestling shows.
Between the success of the WWE Network and this new deal with NBCU, WWE appears to be healthier than ever.
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