Summit News

WWE signs 2-year TV deal in Russia

Donna Goldsmith, chief operating officer of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., speaks at the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York November 30, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World Wrestling Entertainment Inc WWE.N is returning to the Russian market with a two-year broadcast deal for its flagship "Raw" TV show as part of an effort to expand overseas, the entertainment company's chief operating officer said on Tuesday.

The deal with 2X2, Russia’s oldest privately owned TV network, will put WWE in more than 24 million homes, mostly in the Moscow and St. Petersburg markets, starting in February, Donna Goldsmith said at the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York. Terms were not disclosed.

WWE, known for its wrestling action through such franchises as “Raw” and SmackDown” and such athletes as Triple H and John Cena, had $475 million in revenue in the 2009 fiscal year. It is running almost even with that pace through the first nine months of 2010.

WWE previously broadcast Raw episodes in Russia from 2000 to 2002 under a previous deal. Raw airs in the United States on NBC Universal's GE.N USA Network and is distributed in more than 100 countries.

The deal with 2X2 is part of WWE’s push to boost overseas business, which accounted for 28 percent of total revenue in the most recent quarter, Goldsmith said. She added the company is pursuing a TV deal in Brazil and hopes to have a deal by the middle of next year.

WWE previously said it expected international sales to grow 15 percent to 20 percent a year on average between 2009 and 2012.

WWE programs are broadcast in 145 countries and translated into 30 languages.

Reporting by Ben Klayman and Paul Thomasch in New York, editing by Dave Zimmerman