In a move that has sent shockwaves through the wrestling community, “WWE NXT” is poised to transition from cable to broadcast television, finding a new home on the CW network come 2024. This announcement has not only raised eyebrows but also opened the floodgates to discussions about the substantial increase in rights fees that WWE is set to garner with this strategic shift.
Under the existing deal, “NXT” has been securing an annual fee of approximately $15 million from NBCUniversal. A sum that has remained relatively static for an extended period, prompting questions about the financial dynamics between WWE and its broadcast partners. However, the recent revelation that the CW is prepared to offer a staggering 70% annual increase over the previous contract has added a layer of complexity and intrigue to the situation.
If the numbers hold true, this implies that the CW is willing to invest a hefty $25 million per year for the broadcast rights to “NXT.” While this figure is indeed a substantial jump, it still falls short of the astronomical sums associated with WWE’s flagship shows. To put it in perspective, “WWE SmackDown” secured a monumental deal worth $287 million annually, while “WWE Raw” isn’t far behind with a hefty $265 million.
The comparison, however, doesn’t end there. In the realm of wrestling, “NXT” finds itself in a financial ballpark closer to its rival promotion, AEW. AEW, currently under a contract with Warner Bros-Discovery, commands $44 million per year for its marquee shows, “AEW Dynamite” and “AEW Rampage.” The recent addition of “AEW Collision” has added an extra layer to this financial puzzle, although the specific financial increment remains undisclosed.
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Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics, a prominent figure in dissecting the financial intricacies of professional wrestling, has provided a comprehensive breakdown of the current state of “NXT” rights fees and the expected surge with the move to CW. Thurston’s confidence in the $15 million figure is rooted in statements made during both WWE and NBCU earnings calls. It’s worth noting that despite the renewal of “NXT” by NBCU in 2021, there was no apparent increase in rights fees, a factor that may have contributed to the subsequent “2.0” revamp.
Wrestling economics, as Thurston’s analysis reveals, is a delicate dance between networks and promotions. The move from cable to broadcast television not only expands the potential viewership of “NXT” but also underscores the evolving financial landscape of professional wrestling. The CW’s significant investment signifies a belief in the value of the product and the potential for growth. As the wrestling community eagerly anticipates the unfolding of this new chapter, the business side of the squared circle remains as unpredictable and intriguing as the in-ring action it accompanies.
— The CW Sports (@TheCW_Sports) November 7, 2023
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While various entertainment news outlets had previously thrown different figures into the speculative arena, Thurston’s meticulous breakdown provides a nuanced understanding of the financial dynamics at play. “Wrestlenomics Unleashed,” as Thurston aptly titles his exploration, sheds light on the intricacies of WWE’s financial dealings and the broader implications for the wrestling industry.
As the countdown to 2024 begins, questions linger about how this move will impact the overall WWE landscape. Will the increased investment translate into a renewed focus on “NXT” as a developmental powerhouse? Or will it serve as a catalyst for broader changes within the company’s programming and structure? Only time will tell, and as fans gear up for this new era, the blend of athleticism and financial strategy continues to make professional wrestling one of the most dynamic and talked-about forms of entertainment.