Variety has a story about tonight's RAW 25 with comments from Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, who discussed the future of WWE. WWE's TV deals with NBC Universal, which includes RAW and SmackDown (as well as Tribute To The Troops), expire on September 30, 2019 and the company said that they hope to announce their U.S. distribution plans this year between May and September.
"We are incredibly happy with our partnership with USA," says Stephanie McMahon told Variety. "In terms of what the future might hold, I guess we'll see, but we've been very, very happy and I hope NBC is happy as well."
Variety noted that according to their sources, both Amazon and Facebook are interested in bidding for RAW and SmackDown media rights. FOX is reportedly interested as well, as the Sports Business Journal ran a story in November stating that WWE CFO George Barrios and Triple H met with FOX executives earlier last summer as part of a WWE road show where they also met with CBS, Disney, Amazon and YouTube to showcase their programming. FOX and the UFC have yet to come to terms on a new television deal, and UFC is negotiating with other companies.
USA Network President Chris McCumber credited WWE for bringing their audience to the network for their other programs like Chrisley Knows Best and Shooter. It was noted that between RAW and SmackDown, WWE programming accounts for more than a third of prime time viewership for USA. WWE's current contract with NBC Universal generated $180 million last year.
The recent rumors of FOX possibly buying WWE outright were mentioned, as was Vince McMahon selling $100 million worth of WWE shares last December to help fund his new company Alpha Entertainment, which is expected to lead to a revival of failed football league, the XFL.
While WWE may have a new home for their programming next year, one place you won't be seeing first run episodes of RAW and SmackDown in the near future is the WWE Network. Stephanie McMahon expressed the need to have their content on linear platforms.
"We leverage a content ecosystem, so at the moment, it is absolutely relevant and necessary to have [our content] on linear platforms," she said. "It is still reaching a broad audience and it's still our most profitable line of business. One piece doesn't work without the other. Ultimately, would RAW and SmackDown go to the WWE Network? Maybe. But that's certainly not where we are now."
You can read the full article at Variety by clicking here.