Over the past few days, the rumors of WWE entertaining the idea of moving to FOX has come up, largely thanks to an extensive report written in the Wrestling Observer newsletter.
WWE will be seeking to lock in either a renewal with NBCUniversal or else find a new home by a target date of May of this year even though the potential move cannot happen until the last quarter of 2019. Last time WWE negotiated a deal with NBCUniversal, they got much less money than they hoped for and it drove the company’s stock down big time.
FOX is currently locked in a contract with the UFC, a contract which cost them big, big money. That deal is about to expire and UFC will be doing what WWE is doing right now: shopping around. If FOX loses UFC, the company might go all out to replace UFC programming with WWE and could pay a premium to fill the many hours which would be left void by the departure of the UFC. This, of course, would be great news for WWE and its shareholders.
The WON report even considers the possibility of FOX buying out WWE completely. With FOX selling many of its assets to Disney, FOX is now cash rich and might want to invest that money again. Getting Vince McMahon to agree to a deal where he sells the family business will be a hard task to accomplish but at the end of the day, it’s all about money. The UFC was sold for $4.3 billion and if WWE can get remotely close to that sum, it would be very hard to turn down the offer.
If WWE ends up on FOX in the future, chances are that the flagship show Monday Night Raw would move to the main FOX station, making the jump from cable to network for the first time in its 25-year history. FOX, unlike USA Network, is a free-to-air station and can be reached by anyone with a home antenna. The downside of moving Raw to FOX on network would be the 3-hour format. The majority of FOX affiliates have news at 10PM so that would mean Raw has to end by then with no overruns.
FOX also has a number of channels that can accommodate WWE programming, including Fox Sports 1 and 2, FX, FXX, and many others.
In late November, The Business Journals reported that WWE met with FOX execs in Los Angeles to pitch their programming power to them. Chief Financial and Strategy officer George Barrios and EVP of Talent, Live Events, and Creative Paul “Triple H” Levesque were present for the meeting with FOX. Company officials also met with CBS and Disney along with Amazon and YouTube to discuss potential partnerships.