WWE makes a ton of money, and they are always boasting new financial milestones. A lot of that revenue comes from television deals, but it seems that might change if things progress as expected. The company has a stellar deal with Fox, but talks are set to start in the middle of 2024. That could bring a big change for WWE’s strategy.
The domestic television rights for WWE are due for renewal later this year, with broadcasts set to take effect from September 2024. This has prompted Vince McMahon’s return to the company’s board of directors in an effort to explore the possibility of selling the company to a distribution partner, who could potentially cover the cost of expensive sports media rights. However, Comcast, one of the most likely buyers, has shown no interest in purchasing WWE, which has complicated matters. That being said, the multimedia juggernaut also denied claims that they are in the running.
Now, a new development has come to light that could further complicate negotiations. It has been reported that if Fox were to renew its contract for “WWE SmackDown,” it would not be at a higher rate than its current $205 million per year. This information came to light from a Wells Fargo Securities analysts’ presentation when Forbes SportsMoney editor Mike Ozanian tweeted out a screenshot from the presentation.
Wells Fargo Securites thinks FOX is not likely to renew Smackdown at higher price and it’s possible we could see Smackdown split between FOX in linear and a streamer, or the entire night move off and likely accretive to FOXA.
There are a lot of different options open in terms of a streaming home for SmackDown. They still wouldn’t have the choice real estate, or network exposure, like Fox. Obviously, this is just speculation at this point, but it is important to note this type of thing as we approach another key time frame for WWE.
It’s worth noting that during negotiations with Fox in 2018, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corporation, reportedly played on the McMahon family’s insecurities, including stating that Comcast/NBC Universal was “embarrassed” by WWE’s product. His son, Lachlan Murdoch, reportedly added that the deal “would herald the marriage of the Murdochs and the McMahons, rebel outsiders who had built media empires.”
We will have to see what the company ends up doing with their television product. The company might even have a different owner by the time September 2024 rolls around.