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   Fri, March 11, 2011



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Score and WWE re-up
Broadcaster talks numbers, what’s to come
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


Canadian wrestling fans received good news on Thursday when The Score, one of the nation's three all-sports stations, announced that it and World Wrestling Entertainment had renewed their broadcast agreement.

Though the exact length of the "multi-year agreement" was not announced, Score Senior Vice President and Legal Counsel Asha Daniere told SLAM! Wrestling in an exclusive interview that the agreement gives The Score very coveted rights to WWE programming.

"It's a deal that's exclusive to The Score with respect to essentially all programming that comes into Canada," she said in a Thursday interview, noting that "there are a couple small exceptions."

It is a deal over more than just the broadcasts of the shows, and covers online, mobile and VOD rights.

The cause for this renewal can be immediately seen in the numbers. Greg Sansone, VP, Television with Score Media Inc., reports that in the past two years ratings for WWE programming on the channel have increased, with Monday Night Raw averaging over 500,000 viewers and Friday Night Smackdown in the high 300,000s on a weekly basis.

Sansone also credits The Score's eagerness to make WWE a flagship part of their programming schedule for the success of wrestling on the network.

"We've been having discussions with WWE for the better part of the last couple years and have been talking about what we've wanted to do with the property and make it a core of our programming," he explained. "That was really important to WWE -- that we embrace their product. They often talk about that before they came to The Score, it was almost treated as a secondary product, whereas we put it front and centre."

"WWE is thrilled to expand its partnership with the Score," said Andrew Whitaker, Executive Vice President of International for WWE, in a press release. "They have been a great partner, and we are confident we will build on our success in Canada by developing WWE content across multiple platforms." (Whitaker, on assignment for WWE in Russia, was unavailable for further comment.)

Sansone and Daniere also outlined to SLAM! Wrestling that NXT, WWE Experience and WWE Vintage Collection -- which do not have a broadcaster in the U.S. -- will continue being broadcast on the station, while the Right After Wrestling broadcasts that follow the Raw repeat on Tuesday afternoon and after Smackdown on Fridays, have been maintaining strong numbers. To this point in time, however, neither the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony or the returning Tough Enough reality competition have been confirmed for Canadian broadcasting.

The Score did, however, let slip that other projects are in the works.

"We're in discussions with WWE about doing co-produced programming," Daniere reported.

The relationship between The Score and WWE dates back to 2000. On top of the agreement that WWE programming would run on The Score, WWE took an equity position in The Score's parent company, Headline Media Group Inc. (HMGI).

Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! Wrestling since 2000.