Major Network Interested In Adding WWE Television Programming

While many expect WWE to stay with NBC-Universal following the expiration of their television contract in 2019, there's an outside chance that another major network may make a competitive bid.

As we have reported in the past, WWE hopes to get another TV deal in place well before their current agreement ends in the fall of 2019, with the plan being for a contractual announcement coming between next May and September of 2018. WWE made this clear during a recent conference call at the end of October.

According to a report from Sports Business Journal, WWE met with represenatives from FOX earlier this year as part of a road show (meetings were also held with CBS, Amazon, Disney, and YouTube) promoting their content. The WWE contingent consisted of top executives such as Triple H and George Barrios (Chief Strategy and Financial Officer). Many in the industry suspect that FOX could be losing the rights to UFC when that deal expires, and the report from Sports Business Journal notes that FOX may consider WWE as a suitable replacement. They would likely put the brand on FS-1.

WWE's current deal with NBC-Universal makes clear that they can't negotiate with other networks until spring 2018, so anything right now is just industry rumor. The USA Network has long been the home of WWE television. RAW briefly moved to TNN/Spike-TV in the early 2000s, but the rest of the history of the Monday night show has been on USA. SmackDown has moved around, originally airing on network television (UPN), before landing on the CW, MyNetworkTV, SyFy, and finally a move to USA.

USA consistently ranks as one of the most watched cable television networks, largely due to their WWE programming, so a loss of the company would hit them hard. They are slated to pay WWE $180 million for television rights this year.