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From the WWE Rumor Mill: Raw stays with USA Network, SmackDown Live's fate unknown

Simon Cotton
ANALYST
Rumors
2.66K   //    17 May 2018, 09:38 IST

WWE's TV Contract Situation just got more interesting
WWE's TV contract situation just got more interesting

What's the story?

The TV contracts for Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live have become a big topic of discussion as the company closes in on their contract expiration, but the latest rumour making the rounds may see the programs split onto separate networks.

A tweet from Matthew Belloni of The Hollywood Insider suggest that Raw will stay on the USA Network, but SmackDown Live is still up for grabs.

In case you didn't know...

WWE's TV contract with NBC Universal was re-signed in 2014 and eventually lead to the USA Network becoming the exclusive channel for Raw and SmackDown Live broadcasts.

The company's current contract with NBC Universal will come to an end in 2019 and the WWE is currently in a negotiation period to determine where their programming ends up.

The heart of the matter

WWE's CFO, George Barrios, commented on the possibility of Raw and SmackDown airing on separate networks when he said the following at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media, and Communications Conference.

"Market determines that opportunity. From our end, [we don't think] it's an issue to split it - we have done it before. We think we're pretty good at promoting and moving our viewers from one platform to another."

If the report by Belloni is accurate, then the fans' desire to see Raw revert back to a two-hour show may have just died.

WWE's advertisement revenue from including a third hour in their broadcast of Raw has been acredited with increased revenue over the years. Belloni's report said that the new deal for Raw would be three times its current value and the odds of that coming from a two-hour program are highly unlikely.

The desire to see Raw become a two-hour show lead many to hope that FOX Sports 1 would acquire the rights to WWE's content, but that doesn't seem to be the case for the flagship program.

What's next?

WWE have stated they would announce their new TV deal between May and September 2018, so there's no telling when official confirmation will be made by the company.

PWInsider contacted WWE regarding the report and responded by saying "No comment."

Author's take

If WWE increases their revenue for Raw and manages to land a good contract for SmackDown Live, then that will be a major financial boost for the company - not that they need it.

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Simon Cotton
ANALYST
Multimedia Journalist, Columbia College Chicago Graduate Student, Jackson State University Alumnus Occasional guest on the Social Suplex Podcast Network. https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/social-suplex-podcast-network Catch me on Anchor for some interesting thoughts. https://anchor.fm/simon-cotton
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