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Channel 5 lands WWE free-to-air highlights rights in UK

UK commercial broadcaster Channel 5 has acquired multi-platform free-to-air highlights rights to WWE wrestling.

The inventory comprises weekly one-hour versions of WWE’s SmackDown and Raw programmes to be broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays, respectively.

Channel 5 will begin its coverage on February 2.

In addition, NXT UK, WWE’s UK -based brand, will air weekly on Channel 5’s sister channel, Paramount Network.

Under the deal, which was first trailed by SportBusiness Media last June, content will also be made available on Channel 5’s digital platform, My5.

The Channel 5 deal marks the first time WWE has been shown on free-to-air television in the UK since the early 2000s when Channel 4 aired a highlights show and some main events.

Andy Warkman, Vice President and General Manager, WWE UK & Ireland, said: “Bringing highlights of our flagship programming to free-to-air television for the first time in the UK with Channel 5 is a significant step for the WWE brand.”

The duration of the deal was not specified, but WWE’s main broadcasting rights deal in the UK, with telco BT, runs from 2020 to 2023. BT won the rights from rival pay-television broadcaster Sky, which had shown WWE for the best part of three decades.

WWE carved free-to-air highlights from BT’s rights package to increase exposure for the property.