TV Muscle: USA Net Re-Ups 'WWE'

While original dramas have helped propel growth at USA Network, "WWE Monday Night Raw" has been a staple that takes the competition to the mat -- which is why the channel has re-upped with World Wrestling Entertainment in a deal that will keep the programming on USA until 2014.

The two-hour show is averaging more viewers in the 18-to-49 demo (2.7 million) than many broadcast programs. "Raw" is averaging 5.5 million total viewers, and has a high concentration of younger demos. USA says ratings among 12- to-17-year-olds are up 16% this year.

USA parent NBC Universal also runs wrestling programming on the SyFy network. The Los Angeles Times reported that NBCU and the WWE could partner in launching a cable network; presumably, finding distribution would be swifter if Comcast takes control of NBCU.

Bonnie Hammer, president, NBCU cable entertainment, states: "Vince McMahon (head of WWE) and his entire team are an invaluable part of the USA family."

USA and WWE have tried to jazz up "Monday Night Raw" recently with celebrity guest hosts, such as Ozzy Osbourne and Bob Barker.

In August, McMahon told the LAT he wanted to launch a WWE-branded network within the next two years, although he had no plans to take "Raw" off USA.

In addition to shows on the two NBCU networks, WWE has programming on MyNetworkTV and WGN America.

Publicly traded, WWE's stock price increased 3% Monday to nearly $16 a share.



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