As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, an exclusive negotiating period between WWE and NBC Universal regarding a new deal for the company's domestic television rights has ended. We are able to confirm as of last week that WWE had begun negotiations with other entities as well.
WWE's attempt to enter into negotiations with the Turner networks went nowhere. The executives running TBS and TNT are still turned off by pro wrestling. The reason is they haven't forgotten about the WCW experience and it has more than a few people reluctant about getting back into the business.
The thinking within WWE was that they would have "a lot of suitors" lined up for their domestic television rights but so far, it's been NBC Universal and Viacom (the parent company of Spike TV) that have shown the most interest.
There has been some interest from Fox but there's been a lot of internal debate about whether it would do "more harm than good" to build Fox Sports 1 around WWE. We're told there is a lot of concern about the credibility of their news sports networks would be called into question if their highest rated show was WWE programming with predetermined winners and losers.
As for the interest from Spike TV, they feel like not only would WWE bring them ratings but they realize it would do a much better job than TNA Wrestling has done in helping them find an audience for their Bellator programming. Obviously with Viacom not only airing Bellator but also owning it, building the MMA promotion is extra important to them.
We're told Viacom feels that WWE helped put UFC on the map only for Spike to end up losing both franchises. They never have to worry about losing Bellator because they own it and using Raw or Smackdown as a lead-in would really help bring more viewers.
Another interesting note is that executives from Spike TV view Hulk Hogan and Sting as the biggest stars TNA has ever had. Hogan is back with WWE and WWE is close to signing Sting. Spike's faith in TNA is "lower than ever" and they're trying hard to land as much WWE programming as possible.
So while WWE was expecting several different suitors, right now it's NBC Universal and Viacom vying for their domestic TV rights. WWE is still accepting bids and someone could come out of left field.