ESPN executive discusses why WWE isn't on ESPN.
Before WWE signed a five-year, billion dollar deal with FOX last year, they were in negotiations with multiple television networks. One network was ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports. While WWE and ESPN would seem like a natural fit given ESPN's ability to enhance sports and entertainment, a deal never materialized. ESPN Executive Vice President of programming Burke Magnus revealed why in a new interview with The Wrap.
“We did talk to WWE during their process some months ago. Took a hard look at it, we’re obviously big fans of them. We just went into business with them on the XFL indirectly,” said Magnus. “But we couldn’t find a fit for it, primarily based on schedule. As you know, those properties are 52 weeks a year live. And I’m proud to say we have a pretty good problem, which is that we can’t clear anything 52 weeks a year live. We have a pretty full portfolio of content as it is."
When asked if ESPN considered signing a deal with WWE if an offseason was implemented, Magnus said, "Not specifically that, but we looked at all kinds of conversations to try and make it fit. It just didn’t work. We parted ways and they got a good deal with their new partners, continuing at NBC(Universal’s USA Network) and adding Fox. So all’s well that ends well for them — but we gave it a good try."
Prior to WWE signing with FOX, ESPN announced a deal with UFC. The ESPN/FOX deal has already paid major dividends for all parties with fans praising ESPN for moving up the start time of cards and the faster pacing. ESPN+ is now the exclusive provider of UFC pay-per-view events as well.