The Sports Business Daily revealed in its edition today new details about the strategy of the sale of emission rights that WWE has made. It should be remembered that recently the company has managed to close two important agreements, one renewing RAW in the USA Network and another with SmackDown Live to be broadcast on Fridays live on FOX Sports 1 in the United States.
According to the newspaper, the decision to negotiate RAW and SmackDown Live separately came from the company itself and came close to ending an agreement with other television networks.
WWE would have started the negotiations with FOX from the taping that WWE made in the spring of 2017 in Los Angeles. Several FOX executives were present, with the presence of FOX Sports President Eric Shanks. Shanks would have pointed out to McMahon that he was concerned about negotiating two different properties with the same person, William Morris Endeavor’s agent – IMG, Ari Emanuel, who was also dealing with UFC broadcast rights.
In this way WWE went to another company to represent them, finally choosing CAA. This situation generated tension between Emanuel and FOX in the midst of negotiating for UFC rights.
Meanwhile, ESPN executives met with WWE positions such as Stephanie McMahon, Paul Levesque, Michelle Wilson and George Barrios in 2017 with interest in broadcasting one of the shows. Even so, the key point was to ensure a schedule that allowed a show to be broadcast 52 weeks a year permanently.
ESPN could not ensure that because of the schedules of some major sporting events that could conflict with the schedule that WWE wanted. As a solution, ESPN introduced the ESPN+ option. your video platform in demand. This was considered a competition for WWE Network, so the idea was dismissed.
Turner Broadcasting was also interested in WWE programming, but due to the merger of TIme-Warner with AT&T, the agreement was impossible at that time.
Finally, FOX decided for WWE when the UFC refused to renew for the same price for which they remained in issue, 200 million a year. FOX considered WWE for its audiences and its fans, producing the first approaches with visits from Paul Levesque and Stephanie McMahon to their offices, all this before the expiration of the agreement of NBC UNIVERSAL (company owner of USA Network) with SmackDown Live.
Finally, the company decided to separate RAW and SmackDown from the agreement with NBC for which they were earning 130 million for the two brands. WWE had an option in their contract to offer an ultimatum for their brands, so they sent NBC a proposal of 265 million for RAW and 200 million for SmackDown.
NBC accepted the agreement by RAW and chose not to renew SmackDown. This finished opening the window of exclusivity, making a final meeting with Rupert Murdoch and FOX in New York, where they closed the agreement of 205 million dollars per year of SmackDown Live broadcast.