BT Sport set to wrestle WWE UK rights from long-time holder Sky
BT Sport, the pay-TV broadcaster, is set to acquire the exclusive UK TV rights to USA’s World Wrestling Entertainment, ending its 30-year association with Sky, according to reports in the country.
WWE has been shown exclusively in the UK by Sky Sports since the 1980s but BT is understood to have agreed a rights deal for the next cycle, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported today.
Sky’s current deal will expire at the end of this year.
The European pay-TV giant is reported to be frustrated that WWE’s pay-per-view events are also available on the WWE Network, the digital subscription service.
Under the deal, BT will assume rights to broadcast all WWE programming, from its flagship shows Monday Night Raw and SmackDown, to pay-per-view events.
The length of BT’s deal and the fee has not been disclosed but Sky’s existing agreement was for five years and was reported to be WWE’s biggest-ever international TV rights agreement at the time.
The UK is WWE’s second-largest market behind the US.
BT’s deal quickly follows on from the news that ITV, the UK commercial broadcaster, has secured rights to All Elite Wrestling, a new US professional wrestling series that aims to compete with World Wrestling Entertainment and is partly funded by US businessman Shahid Khan.
The acquisition of WWE would be the latest sport picked up by BT in recent years, adding to its soccer offerings of the Uefa Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup, as well as Premiership Rugby, women's tennis' WTA, mixed martial arts' UFC and cricket among others.