Last year, Vince McMahon, the Chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), retired from the company after an investigation found that he had paid nearly $15 million to four women over 16 years to quell claims of alleged sexual misconduct and infidelity.
This past week, Vince McMahon returned to the WWE board of directors to facilitate potential sale talks of the company ahead of the company’s media rights renewal in 2024, saying in a statement:
“My return will allow WWE, as well as any transaction counterparties, to engage in these processes knowing they will have the support of the controlling shareholder”
According to CNBC, WWE has hired JPMorgan to help the company advise on a potential sale and is reporting that Disney is among the many companies that could be in the running to purchase the WWE. The news of a potential sale of the WWE pushed the stock price up 17% percent on Friday.
Late last year, Disney signed a short-term extension to keep many of the WWE flagship shows like “RAW” and “NXT” available on Hulu in the United States until 2024. The short-term deal with Hulu was done to tie up the next-day streaming rights for these shows with the linear media rights. Plus, Disney and WWE are working together on a new reality series featuring superstars, Bianca Belair and Montez Ford.
In addition to the US deal with Hulu, Disney has made other contracts with the WWE for content, such as bringing the WWE Network to Disney+ Hotstar in Indonesia, which includes all the major weekly shows and premium live events like the upcoming “Royal Rumble”.
With Bob Iger returning as the Disney CEO, the chances of an acquisition are greatly improved, since he was behind Disney purchasing Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox.
Adding the WWE to Disney’s already vast collection of franchises and brands could be a huge advantage, since Disney would use the WWE to boost its streaming services like Disney+ or ESPN+, with brand new original sports entertainment programming every week, plus with its linear business, merchandising and theme park businesses, it could expand the brand out.
The WWE already has a performance centre in Orlando and films the weekly “NXT” show nearby. Plus, many wrestling promotions have used Universal Studios and Disney’s MGM Studios as locations for weekly tapings. The WWE also has had themed restaurants and attractions in major cities like New York and Niagara Falls.
Other companies that could potentially be in the running to buy the WWE include traditional studios like Comcast, Fox and Warner Brothers Discovery, or tech companies like Amazon and Netflix. Plus, sporting companies like Endeavor and Liberty Media could also potentially be in the running. Ultimately, in a world where IP and original programming are so important, the WWE will look very attractive to every major streaming platform.
Disney and the WWE are already working together on bringing the latest wrestling shows to Hulu and Disney+ Hotstar, so it’s already proven to be something Disney is interested in.
Could Disney purchase the WWE? In the coming year ahead, we will no doubt hear more about a potential sale of the WWE, as even a sale isn’t guaranteed, since Vince McMahon has also floated the idea of taking the company private or just merely trying to boost the interest in the upcoming media rights from 2024. Disney, much like any other company, will find great value in buying the WWE, since having brand new original programming constantly being created, that pulls in an audience week to week is rare.
It might be a long shot, but anything can happen in the WWE.
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Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.