WWE is in the middle of television rights talks, and that could call for a big change for fans once the contracts are signed. Now, a new contender is in the race for SmackDown’s television rights.

As the exclusive negotiating window for WWE broadcast rights with Fox and Comcast/USA Network comes to a close, a new contender has entered the scene. This might come as a surprise for some fans.

According to the New York Post, Comcast currently pays $265 million per year to broadcast WWE Raw on USA Network, while Fox pays $205 million per year for WWE SmackDown. Both contracts are set to expire in October 2024, and negotiations for new contracts are well underway.

The outlet noted that it is not surprising that the exclusive window has closed without a new deal, as most major deals often go to the open market, even if the incumbents are still favored. He predicts that Fox and USA Network are likely to retain their positions as broadcasters of WWE programming.


That being said, the report also reveals that Disney has expressed interest in acquiring WWE. While Disney-owned ESPN may seem like the logical choice as the “Entertainment and Sports Programming Network,” sources have suggested that FX could be a potential home for WWE.

The rationale behind this is that ESPN cannot guarantee a specific night of the week due to its extensive sports content. The report also points out that ESPN is primarily a sports network, and while wrestling is considered athletic entertainment, he doesn’t believe it would fully align with ESPN’s linear programming.

Regarding streaming rights, with WWE’s current deal with Peacock up for negotiation in the future, the report suggests that ESPN+ could emerge as a contender, as it was in the previous round of streaming rights negotiations. As for FX, the report highlighted that WWE’s audience would be a significant advantage, particularly with scripted content transitioning to streaming platforms and commercial-free channels.

“ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro leads sports acquisitions for Disney. This is important because WWE recently joined forces with Endeavor. WWE’s CEO Nick Khan has a strong relationship with Pitaro and ESPN president of content, Burke Magnus, while Endeavor’s leaders, Ari Emmanuel and Mark Shapiro, already have a bond with ESPN over its UFC deal.”

It is worth noting that Amazon Prime Video is expected to engage in discussions with WWE. The report cited the example of Amazon’s significant investment in securing the rights to Thursday Night Football for billions of dollars per year as a testament to their financial capabilities.

Taking all that into consideration, the report also acknowledges that WWE might be hesitant to fully transition its broadcast distribution to a streaming service. This hesitance stems from the fact that WWE has a dedicated and engaged fanbase that follows their programming across various platforms.

WWE fans were noted as a “sticky audience” that is likely to seek out the content wherever it is available. This could influence the company’s decision-making regarding broadcast partnerships.

We will have to see what happens in the months to come. Obviously, there is a lot to unpack in this story, but WWE RAW and SmackDown will find a broadcast home, no matter what.

What’s your take on WWE’s current television rights talks? Sound off in the comments!

Tags: WWE Featured
Felix Upton

Felix Upton is a seasoned writer with over 30 years of experience. He began his career writing advertisements for local newspapers in New York before transitioning to publishing news for Ringside News. His expertise includes writing, editing, research, photo editing, and video editing. In his free time, he enjoys bungee jumping and learning extinct languages.

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