Nick Khan believes that WWE will secure lucrative media rights deals for their weekly programming.
The contracts to show Raw on the USA Network and SmackDown on Fox both come to an end in 2024. With neither network closing a deal in the exclusivity window, any network or streaming service can now bid for their chance to host one or both of WWE’s weekly episodic programmes.
WWE CEO Nick Khan was asked why the negotiations are taking longer than they did 5 years ago in the quarterly investors call. Khan reassured investors by stating that the asking price is much higher than the last time media rights were to be negotiated, and is confident that the company will get the results desired:
“Last time, having been across that negotiation, the starting prices of where we were for Raw and SmackDown were far far less than the starting prices now, which means deeper and longer conversations. All of those conversations have been productive. We remain quite optimistic on it in terms of time. I’ve often said in negotiations, you can control a lot of the process, you can never control the timing of the negotiation. We feel we’re there in full force with a robust product that seems to have quite high ratings and relevancy at this moment. We think the results will be what we expect and hope they will be,”
In the current media rights deal, WWE changed their streaming model from the company owned WWE Network to the Peacock streaming platform, owned by NBC Universal, who also own the USA Network. With the Peacock deal due to expire in 2025, Khan was also asked if a short deal could be in place, so that renegotiation could include both media rights and streaming. Khan dismissed this idea, stating that the two entities should be kept separate:
I don’t see a one year extension being the outcome for us. I don’t think that’s what the marketplace is suggesting. Also, keep in mind what you already know, our content drives subscription behavior, not just viewership. It’s a 12 month return. Of course the digital players are going to be there, they see the results from Peacock with 20 live events or so per year with WWE and NXT premium live events. No, I don’t see an extension like that in our future. Yes, we’re talking to all the digital content partners who I think see the power in what we can do.”
How Much Money Did WWE Make?
WWE recorded another record setting period in the second quarter of 2023. Highlights include an all time high revenue of $410.3 million, a 25% increase on the previous record.
The new rights negotiations will be the first time that the company will secure new TV deals while not being independently owned. In April 2023, WWE was acquired by the Endeavour group, who are also the parent company to the UFC. An update on the acquisition was also provided in the Q2 earnings report.
H/t to Fightful for the use of transcriptions.