WBD: News

WBD: News


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Dave Meltzer: Update on WWE Raw TV rights, how AEW could be affected WWE executives met with WBD earlier this week. - December 14, 2023

By Dave Meltzer

The WWE Raw rights renewals and the AEW rights renewals will end up being two of the most important pro wrestling news stories of the next year.

From the start, analysts have believed NBCU (USA), Disney (FX), Amazon Prime, and WBD were all potential suitors for the show that starts its 32nd year in a few weeks. WBD, due to its affiliation with AEW, was always considered a longshot and the word going around was that WBD was no longer in the game as of October.

The CM Punk signing looks to have opened doors up since Endeavor's Mark Shapiro along with Nick Khan and Paul Levesque had a meeting with WBD on Monday morning.

One report we had was that Punk was a major part of the pitch, with the idea he'd be a regular on the Raw brand. The report we had included pushing his merchandise sales and social media views along with ratings of recent shows.

Obviously the situation is back wide open and this greatly affects AEW, which has also been in talks with WBD on a number of deals besides just television rights renewals, including potential streaming. WBD also gets a cut of AEW's streaming PPV buys through Bleacher Report.

While never acknowledged, there is also the belief that WBD owns points in AEW. Tony Khan never denied it when asked, only saying he has 100 percent of the voting and decision making power.

The new WWE ownership is not Vince McMahon, so the attempt to get brand exclusivity is likely not there. UFC's contract with ESPN was negotiated by Endeavor. PFL, a rival promotion, was also able to get on ESPN and ESPN+, and PFL just renewed that deal. It is believed the CW deal for NXT also didn't call for exclusivity in the wrestling genre. Whether WBD would want two wrestling franchises is a different matter.

Tony Khan has always talked of loyalty to WBD, even saying that in negotiations for this new deal he would stay with WBD on his next deal even if another entity offered slightly more money. He also made it clear after the purchase of ROH that he would only shop it to WBD stations, who didn't bite on it. It was reported by Nick Hausman and confirmed by Tony Khan that CW had expressed interest in ROH some time back. Khan had said in the past that he legally could sell ROH television rights outside the WBD family, but out of loyalty would not do so at the time.

It's difficult to predict outcomes in these negotiations. SmackDown going to USA Network this coming October was very predictable and the clear favorite. NXT going to CW seemed to come out of the blue. Levesque missed the Raw two weeks earlier for a meeting with another potential suitor for the show, This would indicate those talks were very serious by that point.

More than a decade ago with UFC, everyone was sure it was going from Spike to the NBC family literally until it came out the deal was with Fox. It was just recently that Dana White explained how that happened and that they were ready to sign with NBC, but the nature of Vince McMahon's WWE deal with USA, the station that would have aired the bulk of the programming, was such that MMA was considered close enough to pro wrestling that he had to give approval. He did not, and the NBC deal was dead.

So as far as where Raw ends up, until the announcement is made, nothing is a lock. There are so many other potential repercussions in regard to late 2024, including the channels WWE programming will be on and the days of the week the shows will be on. SmackDown on Friday would seem to make no sense considering how much USA paid for the show, given the viewers watching television on Friday are considerably lower than Sunday through Thursday. For AEW, it would not be in its best interest to be on the same night as Raw or SmackDown.

Raw moving from Monday is also intriguing talk. Its history on Monday is so long that it's such a long standing tradition to fans that moving it is a risk. Yet it takes a hit every year for several months due to the NFL.

Obviously WBD talks regarding Raw, because of those repercussions is the most intriguing. At first it appeared to be so unlikely that it even being consistently mentioned by analysts was scoffed at.

WBD this year has both added a new show, leading to a rights increase and signed AEW to an exclusive contract. In recent weeks it has consistently okayed the live shows going long so main events don't have to be rushed. While not doing Raw numbers, Dynamite usually ranks between No. 2 and No. 6 for the week in cable rankings in the entertainment category -- a category that Raw is usually first place in.

The addition of CM Punk increases Raw's ratings potential. Of course the early shows got a big boost and most likely the impact will be lessened in time. Some will point to Monday's lower number and say it's already back to normal, but the Punk segment with Seth Rollins did 1,881,000 viewers and an 0.62 in 18-49, far above the rest of the show. While Raw, like Dynamite, almost always loses viewers as the show goes on, the drop of 626,000 viewers and 0.22 from the Punk quarter until the last quarter was so far beyond usual levels that it was staggering. The show clearly would have done far worse against the competition without the storyline of him announcing his destination. Long-term, we really have to wait until after football season ends to ascertain how the overall momentum of the ratings.

WWE is looking for a huge increase in Raw rights on the new deal, the hoped for figure of 50 percent or more would be $398 million and even a 40 percent increase would be $371 million.

There is value in having the No. 1 franchise in the genre, but from a cost per 18-49 viewer level AEW Dynamite is a bargain in comparison.

If AEW does 55 percent of the Raw 18-49 ratings, and that's likely within a few percentage points of where it currently is on a year-around basis, Dynamite was believed to have been roughly $50 million in rights fees for 2023, and the option year would bump it up. Raw is three hours vs. two, so as its price per hour would be in the $124 million to $133 million range, and the Dynamite price for this coming year is maybe in the $30 million range per hour. Even with an increase to, say $90 million ($45 million per hour) on the next deal, it would mean delivering 55 percent of the 18-49 viewers at 25 to 36 percent of the cost.

Another key figure is that based on a recent Werstlenomics study of household income of the viewers of the different wrestling shows from January through November, that the median income of a Dynamite viewing household is the highest of any wrestling show in the United States. The figure of $61,500 median household viewership is 13.3 percent higher than that of a Raw household, meaning the theoretical value of its viewers should be significantly higher.

Ultimately, a lot of balls are in play right now and with everything from the days the shows air to the value of having the top rated non-sports show in one's portfolio. But this also comes at a cost that is high enough that Fox, a network station, gave up SmackDown at a lower price, because they felt they lost too much money on the deal. And this is with SmackDown being the highest rated wrestling show and winning most Friday nights.

(Wrestling Observer/Figure 4 Online)



Media Man


Warner boss, James Packer invest in Dr Dre's streaming service - 7th March 2013


Russian tycoon and Warner Music Group owner Len Blavatnik has bought into a new music streaming company being developed by Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s company Beats.

According to a statement from Beats, Blavatnik’s Access Industries has led a group of investors – which includes Australia’s James Packer and Texan billionaire Lee M Bass – in a $60 million investment. The internet music streaming service will be called Daisy.

The service was announced in January when Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor was appointed Chief Creative Officer. According to Reuters, Daisy representatives met with Apple CEO Tim Cook for a potential party.

In the last 12 months Blavatnik has been investing heavily in music, first with the purchase of the Warner Music Group and then with assets for Warner. Last year Access Industries also invested in streaming service Deezer.

In a statement Blavatnik said, “Beats has the vision, the brand, the management team and now the investor group to effectively change the expectations and experience of a music subscription service.”