As WWE's current media rights agreements expire in 2024, the wrestling entertainment giant is gearing up for crucial negotiations. The New York Post has revealed that WWE's exclusive negotiating window with its current partners, Fox and Comcast, has lapsed, granting WWE representatives the opportunity to explore discussions with other media companies interested in securing broadcasting rights for flagship shows such as "WWE SmackDown," "WWE Raw," and "WWE NXT." Among the potential suitors, Disney has emerged as a prominent contender.
However, unlike previous speculations of WWE programming finding a home on ESPN, reports suggest that Disney is eyeing a partnership with the FX network. This strategic move would ensure that "Raw" or "SmackDown" avoids being preempted by traditional sports broadcasts, which often take precedence on ESPN's schedule.
The close relationship between Endeavor and Disney/ESPN will likely bolster the chances of a potential deal between Disney and WWE. Nonetheless, Fox and Comcast are still considered frontrunners to retain the rights for WWE's shows.
Emerging Contenders for WWE Broadcasting Rights
While Fox and Comcast remain strong contenders, other media companies have also entered the race for WWE's television rights. Amazon, aiming to bolster its live content offerings, has expressed interest in adding WWE programming to its expanding selection.
Apple and Warner Bros. Discovery have also been labeled as intriguing "dark horse" contenders for broadcasting rights. Notably, the report indicates that Warner Bros. Discovery is not obligated to remain exclusive to AEW, making it possible for WWE to secure a deal with them.
WWE entered into five-year agreements with Comcast and Fox in 2019, with the expiration date set for October next year. Additionally, the company has an ongoing deal with Comcast, allowing the entire WWE archive to be featured on the streaming platform Peacock, extending until March 2026.
As negotiations intensify and potential suitors line up, WWE is central to a high-stakes battle for broadcasting rights. With Disney expressing interest in partnering with the FX network to secure WWE programming, the landscape of wrestling entertainment broadcasting may witness a significant shift in the coming years. Fans eagerly await the outcome of these negotiations as the future of their favorite WWE shows hangs in the balance.