Tuesday, 17 December 2013 10:40
While WWE has noted that the Raw and Smackdown contracts with USA and Syfy, as well as deals in the U.K. and India for the WWE TV package will expire in 2014, in a story in Variety, it was said that contracts for every show will be up this year and they are looking to put them together for one major package.
Both Michelle Wilson and George Barrios, who are in charge of the negotiations, were quoted in a story designed to up the bidding for the WWE franchise. The story is at http://variety.com/2013/tv/news/wwe-aims-to-pin-down-rich-new-tv-rights-deals-exclusive-1200966579/the gwere heading up the negotiating
A key thing WWE is considering is an attempt to move Smackdown to a new night and go live. For reasons having to do with production schedule, the attempt would be to move the show to Tuesday, although the article never stated that. Such a move would likely increase the ratings of the show once the new night was established, since Friday is a tough night for television. Smackdown's ratings dropped significantly when being moved from Thursday to Friday.
The story stated that WWE has had meetings with NBC Universal, A&E, Disney, Viacom, 21st Century Fox and The Discovery Channel.
The story stated that NBC Universal has until 2/15 to have exclusive negotiating rights. If they don't sign the deal by that time, WWE will take bids until 2/28 and make a decision based on those bids on 3/4. WWE would not move if there is a network change until October.
The story also stated that the television contract would include digital rights to the shows, meaning WWE programming would be off Hulu Plus and onto a platform controlled by the network starting in October.
This would include Raw, Smackdown, Main Event, Total Divas and even revamping Saturday Morning Slam (canceled earlier this year by CW). While not mentioned in the Variety article, it is known that they are also looking for a U.S. home for NXT, which at this point only airs on Hulu, but does air internationally.
the story noted WWE wanting its perception changed from soap opera to sport, because rights fees for sports are going through the roof.