During the Q1 shareholders call, WWE CEO Vince McMahon discussed the potential of WWE extending its reach and selling pay-per-view rights to “majors.” Since 2014, pay-per-view rights have been exclusive to cable providers and WWE Network.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began to shut down live events of all kinds, WWE has been experimenting with showing different events in their entirety on multiple platforms such as ESPN and FS1. ESPN has been airing replay them entire WrestleMania events such as WrestleMania 30 and Wrestlemania 32.
Following the viewership success of these replays, Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated asked Brent Colborne, ESPN’s Senior Director of Programming, if there was a possibility we could see WWE and ESPN pair up for the distribution of pay-per-views or even a WrestleMania live on ESPN. Colborne remained optimistic about the potential of WWE and ESPN's partnership to grow in the foreseeable future.
“It’s a great question,” said Colborne. “We’re always open to discussing a lot of different ideas with various leagues, but right now the focus for what we’re doing with WWE is on the short-term. We felt like this was a really good content opportunity for us to show these three encores, and a really good promotional opportunity for WWE to help utilize our reach and our brand to create more excitement for WrestleMania this upcoming weekend.”
Right now, WWE is gearing up for the most unconventional WrestleMania of all time. WrestleMania 36 was already taped in front of an empty WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. will air on WWE Network, the FOX Sports app, and traditional pay-per-view across two nights. Night one will be on Saturday, April 4, 2020. Night two will be on Sunday, April 5, 2020.