Update: Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics has provided further analysis of this report.
With WWE’s television contracts due to expire at the end of 2024, negotiations are likely to begin around April of 2023.
Both sides – WWE and the broadcaster – will be seeking the best deal for themselves, their advertisers, shareholders and customers.
With FOX being the home of WWE SmackDown since October 2019, a new report has revealed the crazy amount of money that FOX has, so far, lost on their five year deal.
Dave Meltzer revealed the details in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscription required), starting off with positives:
“Smackdown winning Friday for FOX most weeks makes WWE more valuable to other networks.”
More eyes on FOX for SmackDown is the end of the positives for the company, though, with Meltzer going on to write:
“But at the same time, even in winning the night, Smackdown still fetches the lowest ad rates of any Friday night network prime time show at $47,000 per minute.”
It looks bleaker, however, with Meltzer citing a recent report, explaining:
“Morgan Stanley did an analysis for FOX on Smackdown and felt that they couldn’t justify the price tag for the show.
“In the 2020-21 television season, FOX paid $196.7 million on the show and ended up with $134 million in losses.
“In 2021-22, FOX paid $208.5 million and ended up with $145 million in losses.”
As for the predictions for the rest of the contract, it’s not any better, with Meltzer concluding:
“The conclusion is that there simply are not enough wrestling fans to justify the kind of money FOX spent on the show, and that the number of viewers is not likely to change over the next two years.
“They estimate that losses will only get worse, with a projection of $155.6 million in losses for the 2022-23 season and $166.9 million for the 2023-24 season.
“FOX’s deal is $221.1 million for the payment to WWE for Smackdown in 2022-23 and $234.3 million in 2023-24.”
The report, as stated by Meltzer, would recommend that WWE should take less money for the benefits of broadcast television (among which are the ad revenue from major advertisers) over anything that could be offered from a streaming service or a cable television deal.
For our readers interested in TV viewership, WrestleTalk maintains a ratings tracker for WWE and AEW products here.
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