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ESPN executive explains why they couldn’t come to terms on TV deal with WWE

ESPN Executive Vice President of programming Burke Magnus has talked about why a television deal with WWE didn’t happen.

Before the company signed a five-year, billion dollar deal with Fox last year to bring SmackDown Live to the network, WWE was in talks with several TV networks that includes ESPN.

The deal didn’t happen due to their schedule having conflicts with WWE providing 52 weeks a year of content and ESPN airing other sports. It should be noted that ESPN did make a deal with UFC, which has been a good move for both sides. ESPN+ is now the exclusive provider of all UFC pay-per-view events as well.

Magnus sounded off on the conversations in a new interview with The Wrap.

“We did talk to WWE during their process some months ago. Took a hard look at it, we’re obviously big fans of them. We just went into business with them on the XFL indirectly,” said Magnus. “But we couldn’t find a fit for it, primarily based on schedule. As you know, those properties are 52 weeks a year live. And I’m proud to say we have a pretty good problem, which is that we can’t clear anything 52 weeks a year live. We have a pretty full portfolio of content as it is.”

It was also asked if a possible offseason for WWE as part of the deal was talked about.

“Not specifically that, but we looked at all kinds of conversations to try and make it fit. It just didn’t work. We parted ways and they got a good deal with their new partners, continuing at NBC(Universal’s USA Network) and adding Fox. So all’s well that ends well for them — but we gave it a good try.”


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