Thomas Fenton reports even more details on WWE’s next rights deal and what it all means.
Over the past year here on WNW, we have discussed FOX as the potential new home for WWE. As we spoke before about the many many reasons including ESPN hurting, as well as the NFL, becoming unaffordable for FOX here is the update as of today.
This story went mainstream over the last 24 hours as Meltzer released information in the newsletter in regards to a potential new deal. With Dave stating that the Raw show, if a deal is signed, would be on FOX proper running from 8-10pm on Monday and Smackdown running on FS1.Here is the update with new information in regards to this on going potential deal.
FOX is looking to get a rights deal done with WWE because executive's feel the property from a weekly TV standpoint brings more value to their network than the current UFC deal. UFC is reportedly seeking over 400 million a year in a rights deal and FOX feel they can get WWE for much less and it brings more consistent viewers to their network from a cost stand point.
Hunter and Vince have met with officials from not only FOX but 2 other networks in the recent weeks. While FOX talks seem to be much deeper than other networks, there are still many many options.
Going back to the FOX situation for a brief moment, more details of talks have come out today. Wrestlemania was talked about being a Superbowl style special on the FOX Network. 5 years ago I would have said no way, however now with the PPV model for WWE being all but dead, this does not seem like something that is illogical. I could bring major views to FOX and major exposure to WWE. Fox is looking for a shorter deal in terms of years than WWE would like. WWE would like a deal over 6 years and FOX seems to be looking for a 3-4 year deal before committing all the money to WWE. It was originally stated that WWE would have to run 8-10pm with zero over run, However I am know hearing for the Raw show that Fox wants to promote it more a sports broadcast in which draws more add revenues and under that model does not have an issue with a small over run such as a normal sporting event. The FS1 network hosting Smackdown continues to be a talking point. WWE wants insurance that Smackdown will not be bumped for any other event. It is a similar situation with Raw on FOX, as WWE wants it put into the deal that local breaking news will not interrupt it's broadcast.
The fact that talks are this deep at this point should lead it to believe that money has been discussed between the 2 sides and that they could be close to finalizing an offer. That said FOX executives also are interested in out right buying the company. Some at FOX feel if they give WWE a 5 year 300mil or more a year rights deal that they almost are better off just trying to go all in and make an offer to purchase the company outright. I am under the personal belief that at this time Vince McMahon has no intentions of selling the company out right. However, this is easier said than done if a company gives him a 3-4 Billion dollar offer on the entity.
To further the FOX deal is Vince trying to leverage talks with FOX to possibly pick up his new " XFL/UFL" football project on the FOX family? I am told that has not yet been part of any discussions, however, I have a hard time believing that Vince does not have this in his mind.
Other possibilities: It is still very much a possibility the NBC Universal whom has a tremendous relationship with WWE can come to the table with more money and WWE stays "Home”.
One of the early possibilities in all of the talks was that due to current rights deals and the cost of deals to major sports leagues, would ESPN make an attempt at trying to land WWE. ESPN’s deal is set to expire with the NFL in 2021, ESPN is in major turnover as well as trying to revamp their network to not only save money but also create new viewers. I personally do not feel that the timing is right for this to have any potential. If ESPN’s NFL deal was expiring next year I could see it as a possibility, that being said there is just too much over lap for it to work in my opinion. WWE will not give Raw off of Mondays and ESPN is not going to compete against itself to air it on another in-house network.
What does this all mean as of today is that WWE is in a tremendous spot and a potential bidding war that they did not get on the last rights deal may actually occur during this deal? The price obviously goes up during the bidding war which will drive the stock up as well. WWE would like to have a deal in place sooner than later so we will keep you posted on the situation.