Professional wrestling outfit WWE has signed a deal with ViacomCBS that will see the company’s shows broadcast on free-to-air TV in the UK for the first time in almost 20 years.
The news was confirmed by Channel 5 on Twitter, with the ViacomCBS-owned channel announcing that three of its weekly wrestling shows – Raw, Smackdown and NXT UK – will be available on Freeview.
For the two main shows, Raw and Smackdown, a condensed one-hour highlights show will air on Sundays and Saturday mornings respectively, with later availability on the My5 catch up service.
NXT UK will air on a six-day delay with episodes being aired on the Paramount Network at midnight on Wednesdays.
Other content such as reality shows Total Divas and Miz & Mrs. will also be available on My5.
James Tatam, vice president of commercial, digital and operations for Channel 5, said: “WWE has strong appeal throughout the UK and across generations so we’re very excited to be bringing their high-quality entertainment to an even bigger free-to-air audience in the UK.”
This deal marks the first time that any form of WWE programming will air on free-to-air TV in the UK since a brief period in 2001 when its programming was shown on Channel 4.
The deal came as a surprise to many following the high-profile deal that the WWE signed with BT Sport in 2019, with it largely being believed that this would be an exclusive relationship.
In its native US, the company recently shifted its programming over to Fox Sports in a five-year deal reportedly worth US$1 billion.