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ION pins down ‘WWE Main Event’

WWE will launch a third weekly show

“Main Event” is joining WWE’s weekly lineup of shows, with the new series set to bow on the ION Television network this fall.

The one-hour series will air on Wednesday nights, bowing Oct. 3. Show will feature WWE stars from the rosters of “Monday Night Raw” and “Friday Night SmackDown,” continuing storylines from both shows and presenting bouts in front of live audiences in arenas, as its currents do now.

On the eve of WrestleMania 28, in Miami, in March, WWE brass revealed plans for a third series, along with another hour-long it will launch in Spanish that targets Hispanic auds.

“Raw,” which recently expanded to a regular three-hour running time, currently airs on USA Network, while the two-hour “SmackDown” is on Syfy.

During earnings calls with analysts, WWE chairman Vince McMahon has said that the company has lost advertising revenue with “WWE Superstars” no longer airing on WGN America, since last year, ending a two-year run, and “NXT” moving to the Internet. It has yet to announce a new season of the rebooted version of “Tough Enough,” which aired on USA for one season. Still, WWE has been looking to launch new series to recoup that lost marketing coin, as a result.

But in order to launch a new show, WWE looks to broker deals in which it can fully own the shows and collect much of the advertising dollars.

SmackDown” switched networks in 2010, moving from MyNetworkTV to Syfy, as another one of WWE’s shows, “NXT,” ended its run on Syfy on Tuesday nights and migrated to the Internet.

To land the show, Syfy ponied up close to $30 million a year for the licensing rights to air “SmackDown,” $10 million more than MyNetworkTV paid.

Since then, the series continues to perform as one of Syfy’s bigger ratings generators.

And ION, which initially launched as PAX, is hoping the new WWE show does the same for its own cable channel. It has the syndication rights to “Cold Case,” “George Lopez” and “Leverage.”

“Main Event” will be available in 100 million U.S. television households on ION Television.

ION Television is delighted to begin a new partnership with such a successful and well-recognized franchise as WWE,” said Brandon Burgess, CEO, ION Media Networks. “As a general entertainment network with a solid foundation, WWE Main Event is a great addition to our lineup that features something for everyone. We look forward to introducing our ION audience to all of the excitement and drama WWE has to offer as well as welcoming a passionate new fan base to the network.”

WWE is still in the midst of hammering out plans and brokering carriage deals for the launch of its WWE Network, expected to happen sometime this fall.

New series to launch on the channel include reality show “WWE Divas Tour Bus,” “WWE WrestleMania Rewind,” that revisits previous events, “WWE Countdown,” and “WWE The Monday Night War: Raw vs Nitro.” Those will air alongside reality series “WWE Legend’s House.”

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