WWE announced Monday that it has struck up a deal with NBCUniversal for Peacock to air the WWE Network exclusively in the United States.
WWE Network’s reported billion-dollar deal with NBCUniversal deepens a preexisting partnership as NBCU currently owns the television rights to both Raw and WWE NXT, both of which air on the USA Network. As NBCUniversal continues to increase its spending on WWE, with multiple billion-dollar deals, speculation has ramped up on whether or not the media conglomerate will buy WWE outright.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter appears to believe a future WWE sale is possible, if not more financially viable for NBCUniversal, which continues to pay a high price tag for WWE content without any of the benefits of owning it.
“For all the money that they’re paying, NBCU really should have bought the company,” said Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio.
“And maybe they will. The hard part about buying the company is that deal with Fox. You’re going to own a company, and one of your key components is gonna be on a rival network? That’s a really weird mix. But when [WWE’s deal with Fox] expires, I would think NBC would go hard after SmackDown.”
“If they have it all, it really at that point makes sense to buy the whole thing,” Meltzer continued.
“They’re paying $2.3 – $2.4 million over five years right now, you put that over 15 years and you’re already way over the price that it would cost to buy it, you might as well [buy the company.]”
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With NBCUniversal continuing to increase its investment in WWE, Friday Night SmackDown remains the only television property currently not airing under the NBCU umbrella. Come 2024, when WWE’s current deal with Fox expires, SmackDown will be left as the last piece on the chess board for NBCUniversal in what could end up becoming a bidding war should Fox, or another suitor, express interest.
Though there is plenty of time between now and 2024, WWE is already set up nicely to increase its television rights fees after announcing a pair of record-breaking television rights deals with NBCU and Fox in 2018, both of which were enacted the following year.