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Major Update On WWE's Upcoming TV Licensing Deal - What The Company Is Looking For, Timeline, Smackdown Going Live & Moving Nights?, PPVs Available On WWE Network

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Variety has a new exclusive article online with details on WWE's current efforts to negotiate a new domestic television licensing deal. As we reported back in early November, the company is on the verge of a deal worth billions of dollars. Below are the highlights from the Variety piece:

  • WWE will begin shopping the rights to Raw, Smackdown, Main Event, Saturday Morning Slam and Total Divas at the same time next month for the first time ever. The goal is to significantly increase the $139.5 million the company earns each year for TV licensing fees. WWE is seeking a deal similar to what sports organizations such as the NBA, NHL, NASACAR and soccer command.
  • The company used to broker television deals individually but they've spent the last couple of years making sure all of the rights expire simultaneously to lump everything together and sell it as one. WWE knows live "event" programming is more valuable than ever and feels their programming is more valuable than ever as a result. WWE wants to be compensated for a live audience since live content is getting a significant premium in the marketplace.
  • WWE is pointing to NASCAR's 10-year deal with NBC and Fox worth $8.2 billion with their programming drawing higher ratings. Combined, WWE shows air "156 episodes a year that average a 2.2 household rating. Nascar airs 154 races and averages a 1.38 household rating among viewers." Further, WWE's audience is more diverse and more even amongst age groups. Another selling point is that 44% of WWE's audience is under the age of 34.
  • WWE is considering moving Smackdown to a two-hour live show in return for a better fee. To do that, the show would likely switch nights and cost more to produce.
  • The company would ideally like to partner with a conglomerate that owns a variety of channels like that of NBC Universal, so they are able to air their programming on a variety of channels. WWE has reportedly reached out to or met with people from A&E, Disney, Viacom, 21st Century Fox and Discovery.
  • Formal negotiations and bids cannot take place until February 15, 2014. This is when NBC Universal, the company's current partner, will have the opportunity to accept or reject WWE's final offer. Other bids are due February 28, 2014 with WWE set to select its media partners by March 4, 2014. Should a move happen, that move wouldn't happen until October 2014.
  • The belief within the industry is that NBC Universal won't let WWE go and points to the vital role WWE programming plays to the success of the respective networks in which they air.
  • Variety reports WWE pay-per-views won't be part of the deal as they'll air on the upcoming WWE Network. Launch plans for the channel are not yet available but WWE sees the subscription-based channel as something they can break even on with 800,000 to 1 million subscribers willing to pay $10-$14 per month.

Click here to read full coverage by Variety.

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