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Wwe Looking To Sell Pay Per View Rights Another Streaming Service

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A huge development from WWE‘s quarterly financial call Thursday morning was the reveal that the wrestling promotion is open to selling the rights to its pay-per-views to other streaming services.

While overall revenue for the WWE increased in 2019, major parts of the business, including WWE Network subscriptions – a 10 percent drop – and revenue from house shows, were down significantly. This seems to have shifted WWE’s outlook on its exclusivity-monetization model.

When discussing the WWE Network, chairman and CEO Vince McMahon explained on WWE’s fourth-quarter and full-year earnings conference call the options the company may have regarding its own over-the-top (OTT) streaming service.

“Well, we have a lot of options. We could continue on as we are now, with a … free tier and a more enhanced paid tier,” McMahon said via The Wrap. “Right now there’s no more better time to exercise the selling of our rights to all the majors who, quite frankly, all the majors are really clamoring for our content. So that could be a significant increase, obviously, in terms of revenue.”

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Longtime co-presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson were relieved of their duties last week, with interim CFO Frank Riddick taking their place. When a media analyst asked about pay-per-views such as WrestleMania or the Royal Rumble possibly being “off-limits” to a potential third party, Riddick explained nothing was off the table.

“There’s nothing — obviously the devil’s in the details with any of these arrangements — but at this point, there’s nothing that looks like it would be anything that stops us from doing any type of transaction with the Network, if we chose to,” Riddick said.

“There are so many majors going into OTT … Our [WWE] Network, obviously, is our most-premium content and we have, like, a million and a half subscribers, we’ve had more,” McMahon said. “But nonetheless, it’s another way for us to capitalize on our Network. And, again, as I said, there’s very strong interest in all the majors, as it relates to OTT.”

PWInsider is reporting that talks of bringing WWE pay-per-views to other streaming services began in January and was not widely known within the company, even to those who work directly on the WWE Network.

The report also states that shutting down the WWE Network completely is not part of any current strategy. In fact, WWE continues working on the multi-tiered version of the Network, but there is still no timetable for its launch.

WWE stock plummeted after the news of Barrios and Wilson’s ousting, taking out more than $1 billion of the company’s market value. The stocks opened Friday at $44.85, less than the $48.88 it dropped to after news of Barrios and Wilson firing went public.

One business analyst believes that the combination of the low stock price and the WWE’s willingness to sell the rights of its pay-per-views to major streaming services could offer an opportunity for Amazon to swoop in.

Needham analyst Laura Martin told CNBC that Amazon could purchase the rights to WWE’s content for its Amazon Prime streaming service. This would also potentially put president Jeff Bezos in the driver’s seat to purchase the company when the McMahon’s are ready.

“We believe that such a licensing deal would put AMZN in the best spot to purchase all of WWE, whenever the family is ready to exit,” Martin said. “Vince McMahon is currently 74 years old, going on 50.”

It’s too soon to tell what the WWE and the Network are going to do this year, but, as the latest financial report shows, anything is possible.

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