WWE is shopping two of its most popular wrestling programs — “Raw” and “Smackdown” — to other networks after NBCUniversal has allowed its contract for the shows to expire over the weekend.
“WWE’s exclusive negotiating period with NBCU for our flagship television programs, ‘Raw’ and ‘Smackdown,’ has now expired,” WWE said in a statement to TheWrap.
“While we were unable to reach an agreement with NBCU during this period, we have certainly appreciated our long and productive partnership,” the company continued. “With year-round, live programming that is highly coveted by programmers, distributors and advertisers, we are extremely excited about our future. We look forward to engaging with potential partners who recognize the value of having the No. 1 show on cable and live content delivered 52 weeks a year.”
Even though NBCUniversal’s exclusive negotiation window has closed, that does not mean that both shows will definitely be moving to new networks. Should a competing offer come in, NBCUniversal has the right to a limited match offer.
USA’s “Raw” typically averages 5 million viewers for the network; SyFy’s “Smackdown” attracts an average audience of 3.2 million. Both programs rank in the Top 10 shows for social media activity.
Representatives for NBCUniversal and USA Network didn’t immediately respond to our requests for comment.