WWF Buys Out The CompetitionBy Amy
March 24, 2001 - 11:03 PM
The World Wrestling Federation Inc, owners and producers of 'WWF Smackdown!', UPN's highest rating show, have recently bought out their rival of around 20 years - the WCW or 'World Championship Wrestling'. The official announcement came yesterday, just three days after WCW's former owner, Turner Broadcasting System Inc., announced that it would cease airing the wresting program after it suffered an $80 million loss last fiscal year.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the WWF hopes that the merger to boost ratings, pay-per-view buys and create new advertising and sponsorship opportunities. While no financial information was disclosed, it's believed that the primary assets being acquired are the WCW's film library, which dates from the 1970's, and merchandising rights, plus some production and exercise equipment.
Current speculation is that the WWF, which has a strategic alliance with Viacom Inc, TNN's parent company, will attempt to see WCW programming air on the recently re-named and re-styled network (now known as 'The National Network'). TNN is already airs a WWF program, 'Raw is War', which returns on Monday, in addition to UPN, another Viacom company, showing 'Smackdown'. WWF chairman and president, Linda McMahon, has said that "the first option for broadcast will be given to the Viacom network." There's no word yet as to the possibility of the show ending up on UPN.
Like it's sister network, UPN, wrestling is TNN's current star performer, with 'Raw is War' attributed with the network climbing to become the 9th highest rated network, up from the 14th spot it previously occupied. And now, again like its more popular sibling, it's set to start airing Star Trek this year. TNN, which styles itself with the catchphrase 'we've got pop', recently acquired the rights to three of the four Star Trek series - 'The Next Generation', 'Deep Space Nine' and 'Voyager', plus part of the movie franchise.
According to the terms of the deal, TNN has acquired 179 episodes of TNG, reportedly set to start airing in summer; 176 episodes of DS9, beginning Fall 2004 and 172 episodes of Voyager, premiering on TNN in late 2006. Viacom has also purchased the rights to air the first five Star Trek movies on TNN, starting this year.
More information on the acquisition can be found by following this link. Thanks go out to Jose Gonzalez for the heads up!