Some of television's biggest properties are up for grabs.
The WWE is shopping "Smackdown," "Raw" and "Total Divas" after failing to come to terms on a new contract with NBCUniversal, whose cable networks are home to the bulk of WWE content.
That doesn't mean that those shows will definitely be moving. Although NBCUniversal's exclusive negotiating window with the WWE expired over the weekend, it still has limited rights to match a competing offer.
However, NBCUniversal and WWE are far apart on a price. WWE is looking for a dramatic increase in rights fees and has retained Chris Bevilacqua, head of media advisory firm Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures, to negotiate its deal.
"We look forward to engaging with potential partners who recognize the value of having the #1 show on cable and live content delivered 52 weeks a year,” WWE said in a statement.
Although neither NBCUniversal nor the WWE would comment on their negotiations, in its marketing materials the WWE compares its audience to NASCAR, which recently signed a 10-year, $8.2-billion deal with Fox and NBC.
"Raw," which airs on USA, typically averages almost 5 million viewers. "Smackdown," which is carried by Syfy, has an average audience of 3.2 million.
The popularity of "Raw" boosts USA's ratings significantly, however the audience doesn't lift up the rest of the network. Also, although WWE has done a lot to soften its content and make it more family friendly, the value of a commercial in its programming is less than other shows with similar-sized audiences.
Other WWE shows up for grabs include "Total Divas" on NBCUniversal's E!, "Main Event" on ION and "Saturday Morning Slam" on the CW Network. In WWE's most recent annual report, it valued its worldwide TV licensing deals at $140 million annually.
The WWE also recently unveiled plans for a new network that will be distributed to fans via the Internet for $9.99 a month.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.
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