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ESPN'S HEAD OF PROGRAMMING EXPLAINS WHY WEREN'T ABLE TO MAKE A DEAL FOR WWE SMACKDOWN

By Paul Jordan on 2019-05-14 10:58:00

TheWrap has an article talking with the head of programming for ESPN, Burke Magnus, about why they passed on acquiring Smackdown.

"We did talk to WWE during their process some months ago. Took a hard look at it, we’re obviously big fans of them. We just went into business with them on the XFL indirectly,” Magnus, executive vice president of ESPN’s programming and scheduling department said, “But we couldn’t find a fit for it, primarily based on schedule.  As you know, those properties are 52 weeks a year live,” he continued. “And I’m proud to say we have a pretty good problem, which is that we can’t clear anything 52 weeks a year live. We have a pretty full portfolio of content as it is.”

When asked if there was any consideration on having a Smackdown off-season, since a full year of weekly programming was possible, 

"Not specifically that, but we looked at all kinds of conversations to try and make it fit. It just didn’t work,” Magnus said. “We parted ways and they got a good deal with their new partners, continuing at NBC(Universal’s USA Network) and adding Fox. So all’s well that ends well for them — but we gave it a good try.”

According to the interview, ESPN's deal with UFC had no impact on the negotiations.

When asked about AEW coming to the table, it was made clear that the company did not come to ESPN at all.

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