Burke Magnus, President of Content at ESPN, recently appeared as a guest on “Sports Media with Richard Deitsch.” When asked about the potential inclusion of weekly WWE programming on ESPN, Magnus expressed their willingness to consider it, provided the broadcasting rights were available.
“I think it continues to be — I guess from a glass-half-full perspective, I’d say I believe our companies — and this changed a couple of years ago so this is not breaking news, but I believe our point of view towards WWE as a potential distribution outlet for their events, I think we passed that a long time ago and I think we’re now in the bucket of, hey, if their rights are available and there’s a deal for us that works and a deal for them that works with us, I think it’s certainly a possibility.
“There’s no hesitation anymore from a brand perspective or from a live event versus scripted. Their fans and our viewers, there’s tremendous overlap so, to me, it’s just about the business of it and is there something that works. I may have said this to you last time we talked but, to their credit, they run a 52-week-a-year business, right?… And I’m thinking, well, let me start from the linear perspective.
“52 weeks a year is impossible for us to do on almost any configuration based on the other rights that we have. So that actually cuts against us from a linear perspective, but on the digital side, if we were to be in business with them on a streaming or direct-to-consumer or distribution or a pay-per-view distribution or other such thing, I think that’s more easily achievable, and they have a great product… Well, I’m not (talking to WWE). So, I’ll just leave it at that.”
WWE currently has the freedom to engage in discussions with alternative broadcasters regarding the U.S. domestic rights for its flagship shows, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown.