HUGE Changes Coming to WWE Programming in 2014; Smackdown Switching Nights & Going Live? All Shows Moving Networks?

Marc Graser of spoke with Michelle Wilson, WWE’s chief revenue and marketing officer today to discuss WWE’s blockbuster TV rights deal that should start coming together next month.  It’s at that time that, for the first time ever, the WWE can offer their entire slate of programming to one single network.  This includes USA’s “Raw”, Syfy’s “Friday Night SmackDown,” “Main Event” on ION Television, the CW’s “Saturday Morning Slam” and reality show “Total Divas” on E!

The WWE currently earns $139.5-million a year in licensing fees for their slate of shows.  After NASCAR recently signed an $820-million, 10-year pact with NBC and Fox, the WWE is eyeing up a massive increase.  The WWE plans to use this parallel in negotiations very strongly.  The article points out:

Combined, [WWE] shows air 156 episodes a year that average a 2.2 household rating. Nascar airs 154 races and averages a 1.38 household rating among viewers, who are 92% white and over 50. WWE’s audience is far more diverse and broken out fairly evenly among age groups. A selling point is that 44% of them are under 34.

A huge takeaway from this article is the notion that the WWE is considering airing Smackdown live every week and switching it to a different night of the week — likely Wednesday or Thursday nights.  The article mentions that the WWE would do this in order to make their slate of shows more attractive to a potential buyer and to secure a higher licensing fee.

Ideally, the WWE would like to team up with a company that owns a variety of Networks.  The article mentions that the company has already reached out to or held meetings with A&E, Disney/ESPN, Viacom, 21st Century Fox and Discovery.  As far as when this deal would be locked up, Graser says:

Negotiations and bids can’t take place until Feb. 15, when NBCU accepts or rejects WWE’s final offer; other bids are due Feb. 28, with WWE set to select its media partners by March 4. Should a new deal with another conglom happen, WWE’s shows wouldn’t move to a new network until October.

You can read the entire article by clicking here.