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WWE to leave Spike TV for USA Network

MUMBAI: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) will have a new home on American television. One of its flagship shows Raw will leave Viacom's male channel Spike TV and go back to USA Network. In India WWE airs on Ten Sports.

 

WWE action including Raw ran on USA Network fopr several years. Then in 2000 the WWE signed an exclusivity clause with Viacom. In a statement Spike TV said, "After several months of negotiations, we have decided to end our discussions about extending our relationship with the WWE beyond September 2005. Moving forward, Spike TV will expand its investments in original programming and new acquisitions for its core audience."

 

 

Raw was the highest-rated programme on cable this past week among viewers 18-49, according to Nielsen Media Research. Its 2.1 rating was enough to make it the only nonbroadcast series to place among the top 100 shows for the week ending 6 March (finishing 79th). With Wrestlemania coming up interest in the show is bound to grow over suspense about who will challenge HHH for the title.

However a Reuters report indicates that despite Raw's high ratings Spike TV was reluctant to pay an increase in license fees that would have cost Viacom an estimated $40 million per year. The WWE delivers 260 hours of programing 52 weeks per year, including the shows Heat, Velocity and Experience.

A report in Hollywood Reporter adds that the WWE's smashmouth sensibility also might have clashed with the newly refined Spike TV, which indicated its male-targeted brand would be altered under the direction of Doug Herzog, the Comedy Central president. He will replace outgoing Spike TV president Albie Hecht. Spike TV recently paid big money for CSI and CSI: NY reruns.

It remains to be seen as to whether this news spells the beginning of the end of Viacom's relationship with the WWE. Viacom's cable network UPN has a deal for SmackDown!.

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