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REPORT: There is fear in WWE that taped shows could violate TV contracts

Vince McMahon Raw SmackDown

As noted earlier, Vince McMahon made the call to cancel plans for weekend TV tapings and the decision was made after SmackDown and 205 Live were taped.

The plan is now to run shows live every week from the Performance Center. As Fightful reported earlier, WWE talent were given a pass that said they were "essential media" in case they were stopped by law enforcement. Per state law, essential media is permitted to continue running during the coronavirus pandemic.

It appears that going live was being considered before Friday because Dave Meltzer noted that someone in the company noted to him that weekend tapings plans were the "current plan."

Also, as noted earlier, wrestlers were said to be unhappy about this. Meltzer noted that wrestlers were also shocked at the decision while those close to management defended the decision, citing that it was the correct economic decision even if there are questions from people who say they should not be running shows at all.

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Meltzer noted that NBCUniversal and FOX contracts have a clause that requires that only a small amount of shows can be taped per year. The number of Raw shows that can be taped in a year are three. The taped shows are usually for when they go to Europe and the Christmas week show.

Meltzer said that no one will say it publicly, but there is fear that violating the contract could give networks the legal right to figure out a way to restructure the TV deals or to hold back on payments. WWE and AEW are both surviving on TV revenue. The TV networks are also bringing in less ad revenue.

It would seem unlikely that the TV contracts with WWE will put in danger because, as Meltzer noted, the only sports programming on FOX is WWE and USA's overall ratings are boosted because of WWE being their highest-rated show. So, WWE has leverage but at some point, the networks could be forced to make cuts if ad revenue continues to decline and if businesses do not open up soon.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis or President Trump have not said anything about WWE continuing with shows and it seems unlikely that a friend of Vince McMahon will step in but there are questions on allowing wrestlers to travel to Florida every week. Wrestlers are said to be unhappy so at what point do they decide to pull out of shows? It's still not out of the question that the Governor decides to do what California did with UFC that led to ESPN to tell Dana White not to run shows.

It is not clear if it was McMahon's decision to start doing shows live again as a way to make sure the TV contracts can't be broken or if there was pressure from the TV networks because of declining ratings. McMahon told the crew on Friday that they needed to tape this week's SmackDown "as close to live as it gets."