The professional wrestling industry is buzzing with the highly anticipated announcement of WWE NXT, the black and gold developmental brand of WWE, moving to Wednesday nights on USA Network. The show will start airing live episodes from September 18, and will start two weeks earlier than AEW’s new show, set to be aired in the same time slot.
WWE signed billion-dollar deals with USA Network and FOX last year, for RAW and SmackDown Live respectively. The ratings for both the shows may be on the decline in the last few years, but WWE’s earnings from the networks have not slowed down a bit.
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter, NXT’s switch to USA Network will add $50 million a year to WWE’s account, along with the existing $265 million from USA for RAW and $205 million from FOX for SmackDown Live.
With these three deals in place, WWE will be making half a billion dollars every year from just domestic TV deals, which is pretty immense. With added money, there will be added pressure on WWE to perform and churn out better storylines.
WWE’s decision to start NXT on live television will definitely be a major deterrent to the WWE Network. NXT was constantly the top watched program on WWE Network, and a move to USA Network will have a severe impact on the viewership of WWE’s own streaming service.
However, WWE has reached an agreement with USA to broadcast the complete episode of NXT just one day after its live airing i.e NXT will be available on-demand on the WWE Network on Thursdays. RAW and SmackDown episodes are available one month after their airing on live television.
WWE is trying its best to ensure AEW is stopped in its tracks, and NXT will be their main weapon to thwart any competition from the rival company.