“Potential Disaster” Could Hit WWE & AEW TV Deals

Tony Khan AEW Vince McMahon WWE

With an ever-changing landscape in the world of television thanks to the rise of the streaming giants, a huge offer made to major US sports leagues could prove disastrous for WWE and AEW according to a new report.

WWE made the biggest change to its television offering in the company’s history in 2014 when the WWE Network was launched. In the US, that has been acquired by NBC Universal’s Peacock streaming service in a billion-dollar deal. That came after WWE had already penned another billion-dollar deal with FOX to bring SmackDown to network television.

AEW has made its own moves in the television rights world with Warner Bros Discovery now showing three separate shows a week for Tony Khan’s company. Rumors have run rampant about AEW hitting its one billion dollar mark with the media giant but those have proved unfounded so far.

Writing in his Wrestling Observer Daily Update, Dave Meltzer noted that trouble could be brewing for wrestling companies with major changes afoot in the television industry amid unprecedented offers to other sports leagues:

“There is a giant news story coming from CNBC about Disney CEO Bob Iger attempting to make deals to give the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball minority owner stakes in ESPN. The idea to me seems to be that ESPN wants to get out of the spiraling rights games by offering the key content producers points in the company with the assurance that they will stay on ESPN.

“As we constantly talk about, the television business is rapidly changing and as more and more people no longer get cable, and cable carriage fees and advertising declines with them, the stations will no longer have the money to pay as much for programming.

“This spells potential disaster for every sport, as well as WWE, AEW and UFC, in attempts to continually get more money each negotiation period. The bottom hasn’t fallen out yet, and may not, but it feels to me this is the most dangerous challenge to this system that has served sports so well and made WWE and UFC into giant companies.”

What this means for WWE and AEW remains to be seen but with UFC also potentially affected by the news, then the merger between UFC and WWE could prove to be very shrewd for Endeavor as they look to get the most bang for their buck with both brands.