A&E and WWE are expanding their original programming partnership in a multi-year deal calling for more wrestler-themed episodes of Biography as well as new series WWE Rivals.
In all, more than 130 new hours of programming are expected to result from the teaming. For both parties, it extends a mutually beneficial relationship with A&E. The cable network does not carry WWE bouts live (NBCUniversal’s USA and Peacock have the rights to weekly franchises Raw and SmackDown). Even so, themed programming enables A&E to benefit from the wrestling circuit’s popularity and ubiquity and provides WWE with yet another media home.
The outcome thus far has been positive. A Biography installment focused on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin last year drew 1.06 million viewers, the highest rating for the franchise in 16 years.
Programming produced via the partnership will air exclusively on A&E linear and digital platforms and will be distributed worldwide by parent company A+E Networks.
Plans call for 35 new episodes of Biography: WWE Legends. Production is also beginning on 24 new episodes of memorabilia-themed original series WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures, which will air over multiple seasons. The first season was A&E’s most-watched new series of last year, the network said.
A&E has also ordered 40 hours of WWE Rivals (working title), which will tell the stories behind the biggest clashes in WWE history, both in and out of the ring.
Additional hours of original programming are currently in development, the companies said.
“The collaboration between these two powerhouse brands has already proven to resonate with audiences and we look forward to working together to create premium content with broad appeal,” said Elaine Frontain Bryant, EVP and head of programming for A&E. “WWE’s incredible fanbase and talent roster are a great complement to A&E’s unique brand of in-depth storytelling that take fans behind the curtain and we are thankful to the entire WWE team for their partnership.”
WWE President Nick Khan said the expansion of the partnership “will allow us to continue creating a massive slate of new content with a trusted partner, while further establishing A&E as a destination for WWE fans for years to come.”
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