It’s been more than two weeks since the exclusive negotiating period between WWE and NBCUniversal expired, and no new television deals have been announced. The WWE has been on the open market since the negotiating period ended.
USA Network and SyFy, which air Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown, are both owned by NBCUniversal. WWE Programming will continue to air on these stations until Sep. 30, even if a licensing agreement is reached with a different carrier.
Money is almost certainly the biggest factor at this point in time. The WWE looks upon itself as a hot commodity with the launch of the WWE Network, and are demanding top dollar for the rights to their programming. It’s possible that the WWE balked at the initial offer made by NBCU and decided to use the marketplace for additional leverage.
If the WWE is offered a higher-paying contract by a competing station, NBCU will still have the option of matching it. WWE programming is a valuable asset for NBCU and they are unlikely to let them slip away easily. There are, however, several networks with significant interest, the most interesting of which is Spike. If Spike were to make an offer WWE couldn’t refuse, it would likely mean the death of TNA Wrestling.
TNA has had a checkered past to say the very least, and many historians consider the promotion one of the worst in history. With a vastly talented roster and years of prime-time television exposure, the company has actually moved backwards.
In 2013, TNA cut back from 12 PPVs a year to four due to a lack of profitability. On average, TNA does 15,000 buys or less per PPV. This means that only 1.5 percent of their television audience actually pays to see the shows the company promotes. TNA has been unable to escape the Impact Zone for similar reasons. Attempts to tape on the road have failed miserably, mostly because people are not willing to pay to see TNA live. At the Impact Zone, admission is free of charge.
The only thing keeping TNA alive is their television contract with Spike, and at this rate, they may only be hanging on by a thread. Even if WWE resigns with NBCU, there’s no guarantee that Spike will extend their contract with TNA.
When the last deal was made with TNA and Spike in 2010, there was a goal in place to increase their audience to 2 million viewers. In more than three years, TNA hasn’t come close to reaching this goal. With no road tapings in sight and zero PPV revenue coming in, Spike may see TNA for the sinking ship that it is and give them the old heave-ho.
Why has TNA been unable to grow their audience? The reasons are actually eerily similar to why WCW went from being the most profitable wrestling promotion in history to extinct: consistently horrible programming/booking. The only difference is that TNA skipped the profitable part. Another similarity with the death of WCW? TNA employed Vince Russo for a decade.
Every year, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter releases a year-end awards issue, with its readership casting the votes for each award. Every year from 2007 to the present, TNA has been voted as the worst promotion of the year. With the exception of 2012, Impact Wrestling has been voted the worst television show each year in the same span.
Of course, not everyone agrees that their programming is terrible. One might say these are the same one million people who have watched Impact for the last three years. No more, no less. It’s too bad none of these viewers seem interested in spending money on the product.
Needless to say, the future of TNA is very much in question, and the WWE’s TV negotiations may be the final nail in the coffin.