Recently, it was revealed that World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) was shopping around its shows to several different networks and streaming platforms, since its contract with Fox and Comcast is set to expire in October 2024.

Currently, Comcast pays $235 million a year to have access to “RAW”, and Fox pays $205 million a year for access to “Smackdown”. Comcast also is paying $5 billion to bring the WWE Network to Peacock, which provides access to the WWE library and major premium live events such as “Wrestlemania” and “Summerslam” to Peacock until March 2026.

Both of these companies have now come to the end of their exclusive negotiation window and haven’t secured a new deal, as the WWE looks to take their linear and streaming rights out to the open market to get as much money as possible

It’s expected that both Fox and Comcast will most likely re-up their deals with the WWE, but it’s likely to come down to money, but according to the New York Post, Disney is still in the running to try to get access to WWE programming and while it had been assumed that the ESPN would be a natural home for wrestling on cable TV, but apparently, FX network could be the home for the WWE, since ESPN can’t guarantee a regular scheduled slot due to all the different sports events they broadcast. Though things could be different, should Disney make a play for the WWE Network content for ESPN+ in a few years time.

Disney does already have some deals in place with the WWE, including both “Raw” and “Smackdown” being available on Hulu after their cable broadcast. Last year, Disney extended its deal with the WWE to keep its programming on Hulu, to align with the television rights dates so that they can be made into a new streaming/linear package. Plus, the WWE Network is available on Disney+ in some countries in South East Asia. There will also be a new original series featuring superstars, Bianca Belair & Montez Ford, that will be released on Hulu.

There are other studios and platforms interested in picking up WWE content, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple and Warner Brothers Discovery. Amazon has been making major moves to get into sports, spending a billion dollars a year on access to “Thursday Night Football”. Warner Brothers Discovery is possibly less likely due to a deal with WWE’s main competitor, All Elite Wrestling, (AEW).

While Disney has been going through a cost-cutting exercise to reduce its spending, especially on general entertainment content, it still is going to be spending around $30 billion a year on content for its networks and platforms, with a third of that earmarked for sports. If Disney could pick up the rights for “RAW” and/or “Smackdown” for FX, it would provide year-round original content.

When Peacock’s streaming deal is up, though, ESPN+ could be a contender again. ESPN+ was in on the last WWE streaming rights negotiations. Also, the WWE’s new owners, Endeavor, have a long-standing relationship with ESPN for UFC content.

The WWE and Disney might seem like a combination that many might scoff at, Disney has many outlets to reach a large audience, with its linear networks like FX and ABC, along with its streaming platforms, Disney+ and ESPN+.  So it might not be too much of a stretch to see Disney trying to get access to the WWE for its audience.

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

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