As WWE's media rights deals with FOX and NBC Universal's USA Network end next year, the promotion has reportedly been in renewed talks with ESPN about a possible collaboration on future projects. Sports journalist Richard Deitsch believes that WWE CEO Nick Khan will have discussions with ESPN executives about WWE programming, given Khan's past relationship with them.
Speaking on the "Strictly Business with Eric Bischoff" podcast, Deitsch said, "Nick Khan's relationships with ESPN executives are intense and very good." He added, "The CAA-ESPN ties are just throughout that entire organization, and Nick Khan came from CAA, so I can guarantee you they'll talk."
Potential Collaboration Between WWE and ESPN
Deitsch thinks that ESPN would have no problem airing WWE shows and that there was no "morality play" for the sports broadcaster.
However, he did mention that WWE would need to negotiate a deal to see their shows air on ESPN or ABC and not just on the ESPN+ streaming platform. Nonetheless, Deitsch believes that WWE would entertain the idea of a combined agreement with network specials if they go down the ESPN+ route.
The possibility of WWE and ESPN working together is a development that has been around for a while. In January 2021, reports surfaced that ESPN was in talks with WWE about the WWE Network, which ultimately went to NBCU for Peacock.
At one point, there were rumors that Disney/Hearst was interested in purchasing WWE. Earlier this month, WWE and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced they would merge under the Endeavor umbrella to form a new sports and entertainment organization.
WWE and UFC are negotiating U.S. media rights deals as separate entities. As for WWE's potential collaboration with ESPN, it remains to be seen if a deal will materialize. However, Deitsch's comments suggest that talks will likely occur given the relationship between Khan and ESPN executives. It will be interesting to see how negotiations develop and whether WWE will continue exploring new programming avenues.