Thursday, October 1, 2020

FOX, USA Network Not Thrilled WWE Is Working With ESPN

FOX and USA were "less than enthused" with WWE making a deal with ESPN

A new report has surfaced online regarding WWE having serious talks with ESPN that dates back to last year involving WrestleMania 35.

Sports Illustrated reports that ESPN wanted to up their coverage of WrestleMania 35 and the network was in a “deep discussion” to have a desk at WrestleMania, and to air WrestleMania SportsCenter breaks all weekend.

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However, as WrestleMania week approached, the talks died the week before. The reason for it not happening was due to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon not wanting to reveal the behind-the-scenes aspects of WWE. This would include moments after the show ended.

This is interesting considering that WWE shows this type of footage on various programs such as Total Bellas, Total Divas, WWE 24 and WWE Chronicle. 

Per the report, this type of footage could have been acquired by ESPN for a significant price. However, this footage is far more valuable to WWE than it would be to ESPN.

Fast forward a year later, it’s been reported that WWE was in talks with ESPN to air the pay-per-view on the ESPN+ pay-per-view service. This type of deal didn’t happen when the coronavirus pandemic started in the United States. 

ESPN did not want to spend such a high price on any event that was surrounded by uncertainty. 

WWE executives questioned whether this type of deal would’ve led to a mass decrease of WWE Network subscribers. Finally, FOX and the USA Network were “less than enthused” with WWE making a deal to air replays of past WrestleMania events including from 2014, 2016, and 2019. 

The broadcast of WrestleMania 35 will serve as a lead-in for Night Two of WrestleMania 36, which FOX was especially not thrilled with.

Originally, FOX hoped that some of the WrestleMania encore presentations would air on FS1, but WWE made the decision to air them on ESPN because that network draws significantly more viewers. 

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