World Wrestling Entertainment and USA Network have finalized a four-year renewal that will keep Monday Night Raw on the service through fall 2014.
A Monday night ratings mainstay, the two-hour block has averaged 5.5 million viewers season to date, 11% more than at the same stage of 2008, according to Nielsen data.
The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, extends the pact the parties reached in December 2007 that was scheduled to keep WWE action on USA through the fall of 2010. With the new agreement, USA, which continues to control all of the commercial inventory in the show, will keep the year-round entertainment show on its air into the middle of the next decade.
Now in its 16th season, WWE Monday Night Raw has been a key component of USA's ratings success for years, minus the span in which the show landed on Spike TV.
USA regained the rights to the wrestling fare in the fall of November 2005 through a contract that took it into 2008. As mentioned above, USA and WWE reached a new deal back in December of 2007, so the new contract is the parties' third since becoming tag-team partners again.
In recent months, WWE Monday Night Raw has featured celebrity guest hosts from the worlds of TV, movies, sports and music including, Shaquille O'Neal, Jeremy Piven, Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Barker, Snoop Dogg, Ben Roethlisberger, Rev. Al Sharpton and many more.
The guest hosts have helped fuel the ratings amelioration. In addition to the 11% gain in viewers, WWE has rung up a 16% increase among persons 12 to 17 to 620,000 of those watchers; 9% growth to 2.7 million adults 25 to 54; a 3% uptick to 2.7 million to persons18 to 49; and a 17% jump to 3.7 million households, compared with the same period in 2008.
"I couldn't be happier about continuing one of the most successful collaborations in television history," said Bonnie Hammer, President, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions. "Vince McMahon and his entire team are an invaluable part of the USA family."
"USA Network is a true partner and not just a network that distributes WWE's premiere television show, WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW," stated Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. "I am thrilled to have a long term deal with USA Network."