Multiple sources are reporting that WWE is in discussion with ESPN regarding the pay-per-view rights, weeks after there were rumors that Amazon is in the running to purchase all of WWE’s pay-per-view rights for their Prime service. The ESPN news was originally broken by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer.
If WWE does indeed move its PPV shows to ESPN it would mean that it would join the UFC on the ESPN+ brand. The UFC cut all ties with traditional pay-per-view providers and does PPV business solely through ESPN+. Apart from the $4.99 monthly subscription required to access ESPN+, the UFC sells its pay-per-views for $64.99.
The idea is that WWE would make more money if the pay-per-view rights are sold to a third party provider as they would receive a lump sum for each show regardless of how many people actually buy the pay-per-view. No pay-per-view currently makes a profit for WWE and WrestleMania, which made millions in the past, hasn’t made money since it moved to the WWE Network in 2014.
All current WWE pay-per-views are part of the WWE Network $9.99 per month price. Removing PPVs from the Network would be a massive hit to the service as hundreds of thousands of individuals are likely to cancel the subscription. WWE also could sell the rights of their biggest four or five pay-per-views every year and leave the rest on the Network.
WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon said that if WWE opts to go this route, a deal would be announced by the end of the quarter which could mean WrestleMania would be the first pay-per-view people would have to pay for.