BT Sport has been WWE's home in the UK and Ireland since January 2020. They hold rights to all WWE’s shows like Raw, SmackDown, NXT and pay-per-views like Wrestlemania. However, in the UK, WWE Network is not currently carried on traditional pay TV.
The WWE rights in the UK were previously held by Sky Sports for almost three decades, but BT Sport took over after that deal expired in 2020.
Having launched in August 2013, BT Sport has climbed up the ladder to become one of the most popular paid television channels in the United Kingdom. However, a new agreement between BT Sport and Warner Bros. has set the stage for the brand to go global as 'TNT Sports'.
TNT Sports will offer fans a comprehensive view of football, rugby, tennis, wrestling, and Olympic sport, with a 50-50 stake retained between WBD and BT Sport.
With the new agreement, Raw, SmackDown, and NXT will be streamed on Discovery+ alongside linear TV broadcasts on TNT Sports. BT Sport's current contract with WWE is reportedly coming to an end this year, but the market has begun to show interest in WWE rights in the UK.
WWE CEO Nick Khan is optimistic about WWE's chances of securing a better deal when negotiations over a new contract begin. He recently said:
"We're having conversations about both the core content rights and the WWE Network now with the buyers in the UK," he said.
"Part of the reason for having the Money in the Bank event [on] July 1 at The O2 Arena in London is so the buyers can see our product live - the ones who haven't seen it yet.
"It's a heck of a lot easier for all of us once people have, for them to understand what sort of entertainment it is, as opposed to us articulating to them what we believe it is."
"We're open to business, in terms of the network and the core content rights."
Rebranding likely to create a conflict of interest between TNT Sports and WWE
There is, however, a possibility that TNT Sports' rebranding will result in a conflict of interest with WWE, resulting in contract changes. After the merger with BT Sport, WBD will hold the rights of both WWE and AEW.
AEW airs on TBS and TNT in the US and has an agreement that runs until the end of 2023.
According to reports, WBD will have to let go AEW to make room for WWE due to BT Sport's rebranding to TNT. WWE has a clause in its broadcasting contract that prevents the company from taking up rights for another wrestling promotion.
Due to WWE's large size and audience, it seems like the only alternative for WBD is to let go of AEW.
With WWE CEO Nick Khan leading the charge in this matter, we can expect some big news for WWE's UK broadcasting deal in the coming months. Regardless of whether Khan strikes a TV deal with BT Sport, Sky Sports, or Amazon Prime Video, he expects the deal to produce "great results."
Whether it's a change in broadcasting deals or a rebranding, the entertainment won't stop. Keep checking Sporticos for more updates.