Variety ran a story about WWE and the impending bidding war over its television rights.
A lot was revealed and confirmed in this report. Here's some of the highlights:
- WWE is planning to air all pay-per-views, including WrestleMania on its new "subscription-based WWE Network," confirming a report from Justin Labar of WrestleZone.com. The network will include original programming and access to an expansive video library. The report states that launch plans for the network have yet to be revealed, but did say that WWE believes it can break even on the network if it could gain between 800,000 to one million subscribers who pay between $10-$14 per month.
- WWE is considering airing Smackdown live in order to help boost its live event attraction to networks. The crux of what WWE will demand from potential a television partner is that the company is draws a live audience like other forms of sports. It currently tapes Smackdown Tuesdays and airs the episodes on Fridays, but WWE would have to move the show to a new night in order to air it live.
- WWE has reached out to and held meetings with networks such as A&E, Disney, Viacom, 21st Century Fox and Discovery about their television rights deal. WWE currently airs its shows on NBC Universal channels.
- Negotiations on WWE's television rights can't begin until after Feb. 15, when NBC Universal either accepts or turns down WWE's final offer. Bids from other television conglomerates are due by Feb. 28. WWE is prepared to make a decision by March 4. If it chooses to move away from NBC Universal, the transition to a new network would not begin until October of 2014.
- NBC Universal is more than likely going to do everything it can to hold on to WWE. The USA Network is currently the No. 1 basic cable network. Without Raw every Monday, the network could drop to as low as No. 4. Smackdown raised viewership on Syfy 35 percent, Saturday Morning Slam is up 34 percent on CW, Main Event is up 25 percent on ION and Total Divas helped give the E! Network a 166 percent ratings boost.
- Because the WWE is planning on having its own digital streaming service, there would no longer be a need for Hulu Plus.