WWE Expects BT Sport, Sky Sports & Amazon To Be Interested In UK TV Deal
Where could WWE programming end up in the UK?
WWE's TV deal in the United Kingdom with BT Sport is expected to expire in the next couple of years and WWE CEO Nick Khan was bullish about the pro wrestling company's prospects of securing a better deal when negotiations over a new contract begin.
WWE programming had aired on Sky Sports for three decades but the media rights to Raw, SmackDown, and NXT moved to BT Sport in January 2020.
Speaking about the situation during the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference, Khan stated:
"What we realised is that WWE in the UK was perceived by Sky, this is pre-Comcast ownership of Sky, as, 'Hey, you took our money and you didn't invest in the product locally.' So one thing we've done to fix that as we enter into that negotiation, we did a stadium show in Cardiff, Wales last Labor Day weekend...and we aired it live primetime in the UK."
Along with Clash at the Castle in September 2022, WWE will return to the UK on July 1 when they hold Money in the Bank at The O2 in London, England.
Having invested in the UK, Khan expects "great results" from a TV deal in the country, whether that is with BT Sport, Sky Sports, or Amazon Prime Video.
"We expect great results in the UK between BT, who's been great, Sky looking for content, obviously an NBCU partner, and between Amazon starting to invest more in rights in the United Kingdom, we think we're going to be in good shape there as well," Khan added.
A possible deal for the WWE Network in the UK could also drive up media rights fees. The WWE Network currently has over 150,000 UK subscribers.
WWE's current UK TV partner BT Sport is set to rebrand in July 2023 as TNT Sports following an agreement between BT and Warner Bros. Discovery that sees both companies retain a 50-50 stake in the network. The deal will see episodes of Raw, SmackDown, and NXT stream on Discovery+ later this year alongside broadcasts on TNT Sports' linear TV channels.
Sky was previously owned by 21st Century Fox but was later purchased by Comcast in the late 2010s. Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, one of WWE's TV partners in the United States through USA Network's deal for Monday Night Raw.