This week, networks and streaming services unveil their program lineups for Fall 2023 and beyond to advertisers. Amidst this, the wrestling industry has been anticipating the forthcoming announcement from All Elite Wrestling (AEW), scheduled for Wednesday, May 17th.
Meanwhile, WWE, a stalwart in professional wrestling, is also under scrutiny, particularly from its media rights partners, NBCUniversal and FOX. The former broadcasts WWE's Raw and NXT on the USA Network and also hosts WWE Network domestically via its Peacock streaming service.
FOX, on the other hand, airs SmackDown every Friday. Except for the Peacock agreement, these contracts expire next year. Consequently, WWE is actively working on securing its following rights deals for these programs, generating interest in how they would be portrayed during this week's presentations.
However, the WWE was notably subdued during these presentations. It didn't occupy a significant role in one partner's pitch and was absent from the other's discussion. In a related topic, the matter of retired players turning coaches immediately raises a unique concern.
A retired player may have to coach a former rival from a contentious playoff series - someone they might personally dislike and who reciprocates the feeling. A classic example is that of Phoenix Suns coach Danny Ainge and former Houston Rocket player Robert Horry.
Their rivalry was a significant factor in their career trajectory. But that's a discussion for another time.
WWE's Subdued Show at NBCUniversal
WWE's presence was markedly minimal at NBCUniversal's in-person upfront presentation on May 15 at the iconic Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Except for a brief inclusion of WWE content in a promotional video for the Peacock streaming service, there was no mention of WWE programming or appearances by WWE personalities. Similarly, for the second consecutive year, FOX chose not to present its fall schedule during the upfronts.
They did, however, showcase some highlights of their upcoming programming slate, but WWE needed to be more conspicuously absent from the presentation and accompanying press release. Thus, WWE's role in the future programming landscape of these significant networks remains to be seen.