Count Spike TV out of the running to win the next contract to show “WWE Raw.”
The cable network said Thursday it had ended negotiations with World Wrestling Entertainment over “WWE Raw” as well as several other WWE-branded series.
Vince McMahon’s wrestling empire had been publicly exploring other options since the fall, including a return to its former home, USA Network.
“After several months of negotiations, we have decided to end our discussions about extending our relationship with the WWE beyond September 2005,” Spike TV said in a statement. “Moving forward, Spike TV will expand its investments in original programming and new acquisitions for its core audience.”
A WWE spokesman would not comment, and Spike TV did not elaborate on its statement.
The news means one of the most successful cable programs is on the move after five years at Spike TV. The Monday night show was usually one of the highest rated shows week-in-week-out among the coveted 18-49 demographic.
The sticking point was Spike TV’s refusal to increase its licensing fees to $40 million a year.
The other issue is that the male-dominated show does not fit with Spike TV’s new broader image being ushered in by new Spike TV president Doug Herzog.
Expenses are known to be tight at Spike TV after they recently purchased exclusive rights for “CSI-New York” reruns to go along with their “CSI” reruns, a top primetime ratings producer.
Sources indicate USA has the best chance of landing “WWE Raw.” USA declined comment.