Did WWE Overvalue Its TV Deal Value?

By Damian Seeto
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Image from the Official WWE Facebook page

The WWE was hoping to increase the company’s TV rights deal by a large margin. Did Vince McMahon and co. get too cocky during the negotiations?

As reported a few weeks ago, the WWE decided to stay with NBC Universal for the next couple of years. The WWE will now earn $200 million in TV rights. This is up from the $160 million they were getting before. The company had hoped to increase its TV deal by a large margin, but it looked like TV networks were scared by the WWE’s initial demands.

There’s a part of me that agrees with some of the other TV networks that turned down the WWE’s offer. Raw and Smackdown have good ratings, but they’re not as high as they have been in the past. Come to think of it, ratings have actually been down over the last couple of years. Were the WWE overestimating its own value?

Back in the day, Raw routinely got six to seven million viewers each week. This was in competition with WCW Nitro, which had decent ratings of its own. When Smackdown was on broadcast TV, it would get around six million viewers or more as well. Not to mention, it aired on a Thursday night back in the past.

Raw now averages around four million viewers. It only gets close to five million viewers during WrestleMania season. Smackdown is now also on cable TV, and only gets around three million viewers on a Friday night. Ratings haven’t really improved for a number of years now.

That being said, the WWE probably didn’t have much going for them asking so much money for their new TV deal. If ratings were higher, I’m sure the other TV networks would have been willing to pay more. NBC Universal saved the WWE in the end since the network has been doing good business with the company for many years now.

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