WWE set to return to live TV with ‘Raw’

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WWE is set to go live with its weekly episodic programming beginning with Monday’s broadcast of “Raw.”

“We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times,” the company offered in a statement to ESPN about the move, which will also have WWE broadcasting its “NXT” and “Smackdown” shows live from its NXT Performance Center in Orlando.

The shows will not feature a live audience.

The company stressed that it will produce its shows on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance “following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff.”

There is reporting on the thinking of WWE behind this opining that the company may feel it is under pressure to go live with its broadcasts due to language in its contracts with NBCUniversal and Fox allowing only a limited number of pre-taped shows per year.

Apparently, there is concern that going over that set number could trigger clauses that would allow NBCUniversal and Fox to amend the terms of the deals, which are together worth in the neighborhood of $460 million annually, more than double the $170 million annually that WWE gets from its WWE Network.

The TV money is practically everything for WWE right now, with WrestleMania 36 having to go the taped-in-a-studio route, resulting in a loss of up to $17 million in live-gate revenues for the company, based on accounting from past-year events.

No WrestleMania, no live gates from house shows – you can see why this is going where it’s going.

Story by Chris Graham

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