The WWE is keeping a weekly spot on broadcast television in its next round of media rights deals.
WWE NXT, the weekly showcase for up-and-coming wrestlers, is set to move from USA Network to The CW in October 2024. The move follows that of WWE Smackdown, which will depart Fox for USA at the same time, when the company’s new media rights deals begin.
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The deal will return WWE programming to The CW — where Smackdown aired from 2006-08 (after seven years on CW predecessor UPN) — and further beef up the broadcaster’s roster of sports properties, which includes college football and basketball games from the Atlantic Coast Conference, LIV Golf, Inside the NFL and, beginning in 2025, NASCAR’s Xfinity Series. It also gives the network a year-round block of programming, as WWE programs don’t go on hiatus.
“We are thrilled to welcome the WWE brand into the CW Sports portfolio as they play an integral role in our mission to bring live sporting events to the network year-round,” CW president Dennis Miller said in a statement. “WWE NXT is a perfect fit for The CW thanks to its dynamic young talent featuring the hottest rising stars in the sport and exhilarating, unpredictable weekly events. The passion and engagement of WWE’s fanbase is unmatched, and we are eager to grow that audience as WWE NXT’s new home on broadcast television.”
For the WWE, moving NXT to a broadcast network potentially increases the show’s reach — The CW is available in about 100 million homes in the United States, vs. 72 million for USA. The show’s ratings have grown on the cable network this year compared to 2022, and the WWE (which recently merged with UFC to form TKO Group, which is owned by Endeavor Group) is hoping the increased reach can continue to push the needle up.
“Between the new leadership and ownership, the economics of the deal and with their broadcast network now being in more than 100 million homes, it became a no brainer to move NXT, one of our signature weekly shows, to The CW,” said WWE president Nick Khan.
With NXT and Smackdown set for new homes in 2024 — the latter deal also includes four primetime specials per year to air on NBC — the WWE can focus fully on a rights deal for its flagship series, Monday Night Raw. The show has aired on USA for most of its 30-year existence to date, but it’s likely to end up on another outlet in a year’s time. Sources say the WWE has fielded offers for Raw and expects to make a decision in the first half of next year.
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