Update On WWE’s TV Rights Fees Negotiations, SmackDown Going Live On A New Night?

Variety.com has published an exclusive story looking at WWE’s upcoming TV rights fees negotiations which have the potential to bring in significant new revenue for the company. Here are some highlights from the article:

– For the first time ever, WWE will be negotiating all of its programming (RAW, SmackDown, Main Event, Total Divas, Saturday Morning Slam) in a package deal. WWE Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Michelle Wilson says that by packaging all of their content together,

“We’re letting the marketplace determine if it’s interested in all or piece … We’ve had to evolve our thinking. We are clearly entertainment-based, but if you think about the characteristics of our brand, it’s live action, and that’s sports. We want to be compensated for a live audience, since live content is getting a very significant premium in the marketplace.”

 – WWE currently brings in $139.5 million per year in TV licensing fees. The company sees their programming as heavily undervalued, especially when you compare it to the blockbuster deal that NASCAR landed over the summer. NASCAR signed a 10-year deal with NBC and FOX worth a staggering $820 million per year.

NASCAR airs 154 races per year and averages a 1.38 household rating per show, with 92% of their viewers being white people over the age of 50. By comparison, WWE airs 156 episodes per year with a 2.2 household rating – and 44% their audience is under 34, a coveted demographic for advertisers.

–  WWE is considering airing SmackDown live every week. Due to scheduling, the show would likely need to move to a new night. Even though a live edition of SmackDown would result in higher costs for WWE, the company is willing to air SmackDown live every week in exchange for better TV rights fees. WWE Chief Strategy and Financial Officer George Barrios said:

“The value of live content has gone from becoming important to essential. As a network, if you don’t have live must-see content your existence comes into question.”

– 90% of “Raw’s” and “SmackDown’s” viewers watch the shows live or within the next day – making the shows “DVR proof.”

– Other TV entities that have shown interest in WWE programming include A&E, Disney, Viacom, 21st Century Fox, and Discovery.

– Official negotiations with other networks can’t take place until February 15th, when NBCU accepts or rejects WWE’s final offer.  Other bids are due by February 28th – with WWE set to have a deal in place by March 4. If WWE does leave NBC Universal and take its programming to another network, the move would not take place until October.

Brad Davis

Brad Davis is the editor of SEScoops.com and MMANews.com. He's been hooked on pro wrestling since 1989 and has attended 8 WrestleManias

  • http://www.youtube.com/ac1dchr15t ac1d

    Would love live Smackdown.

    • https://twitter.com/StrangeDeranged Pozessed

      Me too, it’d give me a reason to watch it and hey, maybe they could bring back a brand split lol.

      • chance

        The brand split that just died with the title unification?

        • https://twitter.com/StrangeDeranged Pozessed

          It was mainly a joke due to that title unification that happened. Pretty much I have been saying all the time that the brands should split and Smackdown should go live because then I’d watch both Raw and Smackdown. But the unification kinda takes it out of the equation.

        • Johnson

          The brand extension ended during mid Summer 2011. A few weeks after CM Punk did that shoot promo. Then everybody showed up on every show just like in ’99-01, with the exception of CM Punk and Cena however who stayed on RAW.

  • Pizza 2 Hutty

    They should have made SmackDown live when the brand split happened. It was always the B-show and had lower ratings because people knew what was going to happen 2 days before the show even aired and they made it even worse when they moved it to Friday. Who watches TV on Friday?

  • Dixie Carter

    TNA grosses 800mil a year. try again wwe!

    • Mike

      Who said anything about TNA?

      What does TNA net? That’s what I care about, not the gross lol. (I have a friend who owns a gas station, and their gross is insane, but since the margin is so low and overhead is so high, there’s almost nothing left at the end of the year.)

      When is the IPO gonna be, if you’re so confident about TNA’s business?

      • Dixie Carter

        Of course we have been going over 10yrs while you sit and eat cheese and chips and 3ltr bottles of coke every few hours. Then come on this site and think you know everything when your just a smuck peice of crxp!!!

  • Johnson

    Put SmackDown LIVE on Sunday Nights. 7p.m. – 9p.m. That’s a better time, and people are just winding down and getting ready for the work week. Let them chill and relax with WWE action before Monday morning. Middle of the week doesn’t work anymore for a show like WWE. Tues/Wed/Thurs… all these days stink for wrestling now. They’re lucky it still works on Monday Nights. People are busy more, suffer more AD HD, college, work, working two jobs, probably busy watching reality junk, L&O and the like etc…throughout the week as there is an overflow of that shiit now more than ever. And rarely do people go out and hit the clubs or do anything special on Sunday night. Most people are home.
    Total Divas airs on Sunday nights and gets good ratings. They get most of the WWE fanbase watching, and reality junkie fans watching as well. Great way to bring in new viewers since that Total Divas show is introducing wrestling to the reality junkie fanbase. If they aired SmackDown on Sunday nights, they’d get these new viewers instantly, and can treat it as a bumper to RAW. Before Smack Down ever existed, they had this format anyway with Sunday night Heat, and it worked fine.

    Bring back the old format. 7 p.m. – 9p.m. LIVE! And on PPVs, they can make SmackDown one hour and a bumper to the PPV the way Heat was back in the day. And they could do the panel segment and all their kickoff matches on there.

    • peffers

      Ok I’m sorry obviously you were smoking something while posting this. Why would the WWE take and put SmackDown on a Sunday and just make it one hour when a PPV was going to happen? First of all, that take money and viewership away from them. The only way that they would ever do a Sunday night show again is is they made Superstars or Main Event on Sunday’s at 7/6c like they did with Heat as a pre-show to the PPV and for weeks without the PPV a show for the undercard that is not featured on the main programming. If SmackDown should go anywhere it is on Tuesday or Thursday night. It is the B show but it is a main show none the less.

  • Elijah

    Disney? HA!

  • Mike

    Great article, but Variety was misleading about Nascar’s demographics. Nascar’s viewers are 92% white, that’s true. But it’s not 92% white AND over 50.

    Anyways, whatever…

    I’m like a kid I’m so excited about the new WWE Network. I want it right now!!!!