WWE pay-per-views will be starting earlier and running longer going forward
An earlier start time gives WWE greater flexibility when booking its product each month
While WWE waits for its new television packages to begin in about 17 months, the company has decided to make some immediate changes to its pay-per-view product. Most notably, WWE PPVs will now all begin one hour earlier at 7 p.m. ET, the company confirmed to CBS Sports on Thursday.
WWE has long run its standard PPVs from 8-11 p.m., though major annual events such as WrestleMania and SummerSlam already begin at 7 p.m., running five and four hours, respectively.
However, just because WWE will begin its PPVs one hour earlier does not mean they will all run four full hours until 11 p.m. In fact, a source tells CBS Sports that most PPVs will wind up running approximately 3.5 hours with the company's four biggest events scheduled longer.
WrestleMania will continue featuring a five-hour main card (7 p.m. to 12 a.m.) with Royal Rumble and Survivor Series formally joining SummerSlam with a standard four-hour run time (7-11 p.m.). The remaining eight PPVs (currently scheduled as Elimination Chamber, Fastlane, Backlash, Money in the Bank, Extreme Rules, Hell in a Cell, TLC and Clash of Champions) will run around 3.5 hours.
Just as it stands now, any event may go long should WWE's booking or a stacked match card necessitate the additional time. Starting the PPVs at 7 p.m. gives WWE the flexibility to run events longer without forcing fans to stay up or sit in arenas past 11 p.m.
With the changes to the main card start times, WWE's one-hour kickoff shows will move to 6 p.m. The two-hour kickoff show before WrestleMania will continue to begin at 5 p.m. as it has the last few years.
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It has previously been noted that WWE elevated Money in the Bank as its fifth major PPV, and an NXT TakeOver card has indeed been booked the night before in the same city similarly to how WWE schedules its weekends around its other majors. However, CBS Sports is told that does not guarantee the PPV will run four hours. (With multiple title matches and two MITB matches, it would not be a surprise if the show wound up booked longer.)
The company recently did away with the branded PPV structure it implemented following the draft in 2016 that divided the roster and separated Raw and SmackDown Live as separate brands. Earlier this year, WWE announced that it would be reducing its PPV count to 12 with every event being dual-branded.
The earlier starts and elongated run times allow WWE greater flexibility when booking these monthly PPVs. With nine main-roster championships and various important feuds not surrounding the titles, a three-hour card was simply not enough time to get a majority of its main event and mid-card talent featured each month.
WWE's last pay-per-view, Backlash, ran 3.5 hours until around 11:30 p.m. earlier this month. Money in the Bank is next up on Sunday, June 17.
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