The Sports Business Journal has a story up about UFC’s TV negotiations, which could net them up to $450 million per year. Their current deal that airs programming across FOX, FS1 an FS2 ends next year and could have an impact on where WWE lands. If UFC leaves FOX then it could open the door for WWE. WWE’s current deal for Raw and Smackdown Live on the USA Network expires in the fall of 2019.
The story notes that there is an exclusive negotiating timeframe with NBC Universal that expires in February so WWE can’t negotiate with other networks until that time but they have had talks with Fox executives over the summer. WWE CFO George Barrios and EVP Paul “Triple H” Levesque were among the executives that met with Fox.
The story noted that the meeting was part of a “WWE road show” where they spoke with various networks, including CBS and Disney, and digital companies like Amazon and YouTube. Digital streaming companies are going to shell out big money for exclusive programming as more people decide to cut the cord from their cable company.
One thing that was not noted in that story but reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter is that Ari Emmanuel, who owns UFC, is also WWE’s representative for these TV talks. That might seem like a conflict of interest but UFC expects to nail down the deal points of their TV deal by the end of December and Emmanuel would have more knowledge going into February (for the start of WWE’s TV negotiations) and the contacts that would give him the advantage over someone else handling negotiations.
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