It’s a good time to be WWE.
Its stock price is at its all-time high. The WWE Performance Center is a state-of-the-art facility breeding the future of the company, and the debut of the WWE Network ushers in a new era of trend-setting technology for program broadcasting and development.
Not to be outdone, WWE Monday Night Raw and SmackDown are television free agents.
We’re talking the LeBron James of the pro wrestling/sports entertainment world.
The deal between WWE and NBCUniversal expired without a new one reached.
That leaves WWE to shop around all television rights, especially its two most successful programs for a lucrative licensing deal.
Important to note, NBCUniversal can match any offer by another network, so the global entity may remain with its current NBCUniversal television homes -- USA Network for Monday Night Raw and Syfy for SmackDown.
Where will WWE land?
Get out the checkbook.
Like it or not, WWE is more family oriented which means the ceiling for more money is higher. Opening the door to more people at all ages gives the company leverage -- the availability to reach more advertisers, networks, sponsors.
At one point, ABC and ESPN were so anti-WWE that it tried to discredit the company during its heyday of the Monday Night Wars. ABC’s Monday Night Football was losing ratings in its target market to the Monday Night Wars.
That was then, and this is now.
• ABC, ABC Family, A&E, Disney Channel and ESPN are under the Disney banner.
• Like WWE today, Disney is family oriented.
• WWE’s headquarters are in Stamford, Conn. ESPN in Bristol, Conn.
• Former WWE broadcasters like Jonathan Coach Coachman and Todd Grisham are working for ESPN.
• WWE superstar John Cena is one of the most requested athletes/celebrities by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Disney World/Disney Land is one of the most requested destinations by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
• Disney makes movies through Walt Disney Studios. WWE does, too, through WWE Studios.
• WWE superstar The Miz starred in “Christmas Bounty” as part of ABC Family’s “Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas.”
• ESPN Classic shows old wrestling footage not owned by WWE.
• ESPN is all about professional sports, and pro athletes -- especially baseball, basketball and football players -- love wearing WWE championship belts.
• Monday Night Football is not on ABC anymore. It’s on sister-station ESPN. The target market for Monday Night Football and Monday Night Raw is similar.
How they match-up
Look, WWE fans are going to watch WWE Monday Night Raw. Football fans are going to watch Monday Night Football, unless it a bad match-up or blow-out, which happens.
So much is being consolidated in today’s television world. Many different channels are within the same company. You’re already competing with yourself.
Instead of battling over who watches Monday Night Raw or Monday Night Football, wouldn’t it make more sense to join forces? It’s already proven there is room for both. You would have Monday Night Football on ESPN, and Monday Night Raw on ABC or A&E.
It appears WWE Network is the future, but the present for Raw and SmackDown is still with a more established home.
NBCUniversal is a strong working partner with WWE, but can you imagine the possibilities with ABC, Disney, ESPN and WWE on the same television team.
WWE often says, “Never say never.”