UPDATE: It’s official. The following discussion of circumstances surrounding the deal remains pertinent, but for TKO Group/WWE’s formal announcement, head here.
With September’s announcement that SmackDown is headed to USA in 2024, most of the focus on WWE’s next media rights deals has been on Raw’s new home. But it seems like NXT could be the next brand to make headlines.
PWInsider is reporting that WWE’s third/developmental brand will be moving off cable and heading to broadcast television next year:
Multiple sources in the broadcast industry have confirmed that the CW Network and WWE have been in deep discussions for weeks about NXT shifting from its current basic cable home on the USA Network to a traditional broadcast television home, airing live weekly on the CW Network when the brand’s current media rights deal ends in September 2024.
The belief among some we have spoken with is the deal is VERY close to being completed with the deal expected to be around five years in length.
This isn’t the first time The CW has been linked to pro wrestling over the past few weeks. As the network’s new owners Nexstar Media Group shift its focus from scripted dramas aimed at younger audiences to reality programming and live sports, The CW was believed to be the landing spot for Billy Corgan’s NWA. While Corgan has denied the reports, a scene of wrestlers doing illegal drugs on the NWA’s most recent PPV allegedly had CW executives reconsidering whether or not to put its shows on television.
If Insider’s report is correct, The CW will have landed a much bigger wrestling brand anyway.
WWE has been focused on raising NXT’s profile by sending stars from Raw like Seth Rollins, The New Day, Rhea Ripley, Dominik Mysterio and Becky Lynch to the brand in hopes of landing a media rights contract closer in value to the ones Raw and SmackDown have traditionally landed. PWInsider doesn’t have a dollar figure for a potential CW/NXT deal, but says the one they’ve been told about “would easily be the biggest increase for WWE NXT media rights fees ever”.
A spot on The CW would be the latest big step up for NXT in terms of reach too. In its current form, the show started online in 2012 before moving to Hulu and eventually the WWE Network, then jumping to cable in 2019 with USA. Should Insider’s report prove correct, next year it will be on a channel available in 99% of homes in the United States with a television.
WWE’s new parent company TKO Group Holdings has an earnings call later today (Nov. 7). Announcing a big money NXT to The CW deal would probably make shareholders pretty happy...