After reports that World Wrestling Entertainment was zoning in on a huge new deal with NBC Universal for airing rights to “Monday Night Raw”, which is going for three times the usual price it receives.
Analysts have done the calculations and believe that the new deal will most likely surpass well over $400 million a year. It might also be too costly for NBC Universal to latch onto a monopoly which is why the corporation has voted not to renew “SmackDown Live,” for a second run which has aired since 2016.
Eric Katz, senior analyst for Wells Fargo, said: “We think ‘SmackDown’ is due for a big raise as well, and likely still viewed as a bargain for several players reportedly interested.” Being seen as a second-rate show in the World Wrestling Entertainment “collection”, “Smackdown” has been rising in popularity since making the shift to a live version such as the likes of “Raw”.
Those in line for the rights to “SmackDown” include Facebook, Amazon and Fox. Facebook has also recently joined with WWE for a live series called “Mixed Match Challenge” which was an in-ring broadcast which resulted in over 35 million views during its debut, though officials were not content with the decline in viewership after it.
WWE chief branding officer Stephanie McMahon spoke to Variety in January, stressing on how important it was to maintain a direct distribution of the company at this point.
According to Variety, a Guggenheim analysis of WWE’s current television renewals read: “The company sits in a much stronger financial and negotiating position now than in 2014 (having just launched the WWE Network while PPV was winding down),” and “We believe that WWE stands to make significant headway during its coming television contract negotiations due to an enhanced brand, new [business-to-business] relationships, more potential bidders than ever, and a contract that under-indexes other live premium programming.”