Last Friday came and went without the WWE and NBC Universal reaching a new agreement on a television deal before their exclusive negotiating period ended. Now, the WWE can officially negotiate with other networks including Viacom, Disney and 20th Century Fox which may be looking to land the TV rights for WWE programming.
WWE confirmed that no agreement was made to Variety.com and also released this statement: “While we were unable to reach an agreement with NBCU during this period, we have certainly appreciated our long and productive partnership. With year-round, live programming that is highly coveted by programmers, distributors and advertisers, we are extremely excited about our future. We look forward to engaging with potential partners who recognize the value of having the #1 show on cable and live content delivered 52 weeks a year.”
In a perfect world, WWE would like to have all of its shows on one network family but it may have to split them up. The company fully expects to more than double the almost $140 million a year it currently receives in licensing fees in any upcoming deal.
While a new agreement has not been reached between WWE and NBCU, the network does have the right to match any offer made by another potential partner. And the sports entertainment juggernaut has implied in the past that it would prefer to remain with NBCU.
It will be interesting to see what other networks go hard after WWE programming and would also be willing to take all of the shows on the table including “Raw”, “Smackdown”, “Main Event”, “Total Divas” and “Saturday Morning Slam”.
WWE has said that it hopes to have a deal done by April or May at the latest.