Google-owned YouTube had hoped to sign on wrestling entertainment and media company WWE for its pay-channel initiative as an anchor tenant, according to sources. But with respect to Internet video, WWE for now has opted to stick with ad-supported properties.
Reps for YouTube and WWE declined to comment.
WWE was among the first original channel partners for YouTube, launching WWE FanNation in February 2012. The YouTube channel has served 528 million views to date and now has nearly 1.5 million subscribers, who don’t pay anything but receive alerts about new content.
Separately, WWE recently struck a deal with Yahoo, which will offer exclusive content on its ad-supported platform. That will include a 30-minute preshow before “Monday Night Raw” airs on USA Network, and two weekly series of 50 episodes per year as well as exclusive access to WWE’s archives of matches, shows, highlights, short-form clips and other events. In addition, the entertainment company plans to launch premium service WWE Network, either as a traditional cable net or online-only one, though timing on that is indeterminate.
WWE, based in Stamford, Conn., broadcasts to 650 million TV households in more than 150 countries each week. In the U.S. the company creates seven hours of original programming watched by approximately 14 million people in the U.S.