Backstage Update On WWE Negotiating With ESPN: FOX & USA Network Not Happy

WWE Other |By Matt Boone |Sun, April 5, 2020 - 10:38AM EDT
Vince McMahon/ESPN Negotiations

ESPN has been in negotiations to secure the broadcast rights to WrestleMania for over a year now and last year, they discussed having a desk at the event and airing WrestleMania SportsCenter breaks throughout the weekend but talks never went anywhere.

Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated reports that one of the main sticking points was that Vince McMahon didn't want to expose the business by having ESPN cameras backstage filming behind-the-scenes content.

For this year's WrestleMania, there were talks between ESPN and WWE which would have seen the show stream on ESPN+ but amid ESPN didn't want to spend such a high price on an event, especially as the Coronavirus pandemic became a major issue.

Ultimately, ESPN and WWE worked out a deal where the sports network aired three encore presentations of past WrestleMania pay-per-view and the above reports adds that USA Network and especially FOX were less than happy that this deal was reached, considering they have existing relationships with WWE for TV shows.

In fact, FOX expected encore WrestleMania presentations to air on FS1 but WWE went with ESPN since it reaches a significantly larger audience.

Perhaps this dynamic is why WWE ended up airing old WrestleMania matches on FOX and then the full PPV aired again two nights later on ESPN, as this sort of made it seem like FOX got the match before ESPN and took away the novelty for those WrestleMania shows.

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