The 2012 budget for payroll for the new WWE Network is estimated at around $20 million for the first year and $25 million in the second and third year. Production facilities and technical equipment will run the company another $18 million per year along with satellite uplinking estimated at around $13 million. This puts the first year budget anywhere from $60 to $90 million.
Income will be based on carriage fees, which is largely dependent on how much they will be able to charge cable operators for programming. Given the amount of money being invested, many wrestling media writers and others covering the network launch in the mainstream have dubbed this Vince McMahon’s “next flop.” McMahon reportedly has seen this network launch as a necessity dating all the way back to 2005.
This was largedly in part to Raw’s contract expiring with Spike TV and felt he could make far more money in rights feeds by bidding all of the major cable networks against each other. When Spike dropped out early, everyone but USA and WGN weren’t interested. The company went with USA given the low clearance for WGN. In going with USA the company ended up gaining a worse financial deal than they had on Spike. McMahon reportedly was vocal around this time about how the company could never risk a time where they weren’t on American television.
Source: Dave Meltzer, The Wrestling Observer Newsletter