clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Endeavor leaders say WWE media rights talks happening with ‘all the platforms’

Newest Innovations In Consumer Technology On Display At 2014 International CES Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Ari Emanuel and Mark Shapiro are, respectively, the CEO and President & COO for both Endeavor and TKO Group Holdings, the new publicly traded corporation which houses both WWE and UFC. As such, there’s no shortage of items on their collective “to do” list. But high up on it is securing new media rights contracts for Raw and SmackDown.

WWE’s Vince McMahon, Nick Khan & others were already working on landing new deals for the two shows (and NXT), and will presumably still be involved in the process. But the business & entertainment press had access to Emanuel & Shapiro today (Sept. 12) as they were celebrating the official close of Endeavor’s acquisition of WWE and launch of TKO on the New York Stock Exchange, and got them on record about where things stand. NBCUniversal’s rights to Raw and FOX’s rights to SmackDown expire in October of next year.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Shapiro said TKO is “ready to fire out of the gate” and that their “first mission is to fully capitalize on this insatiable demand for premium content and live events.” On the rights to Raw and SmackDown specifically, he said:

“We’re having very encouraging conversations with several players and platforms at the moment on WWE Raw and Smackdown. We’re cautiously optimistic, we’re, in many ways, being valued as a unicorn because we’re a year-round. WWE is a is a full calendar, sports and entertainment platform with significant engagement, strong reach and attractive demos. And that bodes well for these conversations and I believe that we’ll have results that are in line with market expectations.”

Shapiro again emphasized that TKO is talking to streamers when he and his boss spoke to CNBC’s David Faber this morning on Squawk on the Street (h/t Post Wrestling):

Emanuel: We feel very good about where we’re at with the WWE now as principals in that negotiation and I think we’ll be in line with what the market thinks will happen with those rights… I’m not telling you (what that means). No. At some point, I’ll call you and bug you. I promise.

Shapiro: But keep in mind, we’re in conversations right now with WWE because those deals are up in October of next year. Both deals, SmackDown and Raw. We’re cautiously optimistic and we’re having conversations with all the platforms right now, linear and digital. As Ari mentioned, we have a lot of product and it’s a year-around product… WWE and UFC are a full calendar year…

Disney and Amazon have been reported as potential landing spots for WWE programming in recent months. The former could mean broadcast, cable or streaming, while the later would mean Raw or SmackDown on Amazon Prime or their ad-supported streaming service FreeVee. Speculation about an Amazon deal heated up recently when Triple H was spotted in public with Emanuel and Jeff Bezos...

Will we soon have a weekly WWE show that’s only available digitally? Stay tuned, or maybe we should say, keep your subscriptions up-to-date.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats