Sources in WWE were said to be extremely surprised with Spike TV’s decision to pull out of negotiations with WWE. Although the USA deal is expected to be announced soon, actually being rejected by its home network certainly won’t give WWE any leverage in negotiations.
FX, TNT and TBS showed absolutely no interest in WWE programming, serving as a huge wakeup call to WWE and the wrestling industry in general. A while back, optimists believed that TNA had a shot at getting on such networks, but if the leader in pro wrestling can’t even enter into negotiations, certainly wrestling is not ‘hot’ in the eyes of executives at those networks.
There are a number of factors that led into Spike TV’s decision to drop WWE, including poor performance with advertisers. Despite high cable ratings and a generally high price tag (that WWE wanted to up to $40 million per year), RAW was not a huge hit with advertisers and was not an unbelievable slam dunk business-wise for Spike TV. Spike also claims it’s moving more towards traditional scripted programming.
The network recently purchased rights to CSI: New York re-runs, to supplement its very successful CSI re-airings. With Spike satisfied with the performance of those shows, WWE’s package just does not seem as important as it once did.