In a significant move that will influence the landscapes of professional wrestling broadcast deals and the exposure of up-and-coming talent, WWE has secured a new television arrangement with The CW Network for its NXT television series, set to begin in October 2024. This multi-year partnership marks a lucrative milestone for the WWE, essentially more than doubling the revenue from their existing contract with the USA Network, soaring from $15 million to an estimated $37 million annually. The announcement by TKO Group on Tuesday, coupled with an investor’s call led by CEO Ari Emanuel, highlighted a staggering 70% average annual increase in WWE’s media rights valuation for NXT.
Within the industry, this development is seen as a momentous opportunity for WWE to showcase their rising stars to a broader demographic. Through this strategic alignment with The CW, WWE anticipates forging a new generation of wrestling icons while transforming NXT into a standalone brand on par with WWE’s flagship shows, RAW and SmackDown. Speaking to the pragmatism of WWE’s planning, insiders like PWInsider’s Mike Johnson have reported that the organization intends to continue broadcasting NXT live weekly, with periodic pre-recorded episodes as required.
As NXT nestles into its Tuesday night slot, WWE officials remain adaptable, willing to engage in discussions for alternate scheduling to align with The CW’s programming needs. The Performance Center will remain the primary taping location for NXT, although WWE is not closing the door on potential touring or different venues if they prove financially viable.
The CW is not expected to be the new home for WWE’s Premium Live Event (PLE) specials, which, according to sources, will still predominantly feature on the WWE Network, Peacock, and pay-per-view services. The ripple of this deal has also been felt by other wrestling promotions, specifically with regard to The CW’s negotiations. Dave Marquez’s United Wrestling Network had deep-seated discussions with the network that were ultimately sidelined by WWE’s substantial and swift move into negotiations around four to six weeks prior.
Rumors concerning the NWA’s television dealings with The CW have also been circulating, with neither party confirming such arrangements. Nonetheless, insiders in the NWA believed that WWE’s deal wouldn’t influence their discussions with The CW. Fightful Select’s informants echoed this sentiment, noting that WWE and The CW had begun discussions months before NWA’s talks, implying stronger initial prospects for WWE’s partnership.
Looking forward, WWE’s vision remains clear. Expectations are set for the NXT content on The CW to mirror its current format enjoyed by audiences on the USA Network. WWE officials have expressed satisfaction with the NXT viewership trends, particularly noting a boost in numbers coinciding with main roster stars’ involvement.
While NWA talents have expressed feelings of being caught off guard upon learning of WWE’s new television deal, entities within WWE suggest that The CW is unlikely to pursue an additional wrestling entity now that their focus is locked with NXT.
It’s crystal clear that WWE’s strategic collaboration with The CW promises to heighten the visibility and bolster the branding of NXT as a distinct entity within the professional wrestling constellation. Fans and aspiring superstars alike will undoubtedly be eager to see how this partnership unfolds, with the potential to redefine the NXT experience and secure its future as a formidable power player in the sports entertainment arena.
Stay with us for continued insights and updates on this ever-evolving story within the professional wrestling industry.