USA Takes Back Turnbuckle TV

Pro-wrestling fan sites were abuzz Tuesday with the news that NBC Universal had struck a three-year deal to bring World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. programming back to USA Network starting in October.

In addition to the return of Monday Night Raw, which debuted on USA back in 1993, USA will air a one-hour weekend version of RAW, with co-owned Telemundo airing Spanish-language versions.

The NBC broadcast net will also air at least two 90-minute Saturday late night RAW specials per year, though it was not clear whether that would be after SNL at 1 a.m. or perhaps subbing for repeats of the late night Saturday comedy franchise.

As B&C reported Monday (April 4), NBC U has been sweetening the deal--including a tie-in to co-owned Universal theme parks--to wrestle wrestling away from Spike TV, which itself grabbed the rights from USA in 2000.

It apparently didn't take an illegal hold or a folding chair, though. With WWE ratings slipping and Spike getting more bang out of off-net runs of CSI, new Spike President Doug Herzog was not making a big play to keep Vince McMahon & Company.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.