The WWE may face an acquisition battle
The Future. World Wrestling Entertainment may be up for auction thanks to a jaw-dropping leadership change, great financials, and the ambition of entertainment conglomerates to lock down sports rights to shore up their streamers. If WWE does sell, the winner may not only get a respected sports/entertainment brand but a talent incubator that has bred some of the biggest names in Hollywood today.
Who will enter the ring for the WWE? THR has some ideas…
- Comcast. The conglomerate already has domestic rights to several WWE shows (Raw, NXT, Miz & Mrs.) and streams the WWE Network on Peacock. According to Loop Capital analyst Alan Gould, “Comcast represents almost a third of WWE’s revenue.”
- Disney. Several analysts believe that the Mouse House may be interested in acquiring the company for ESPN because it already airs fights for the UFC. This acquisition could be seen as a strategic play to grow ESPN+.
- Endeavor. Speaking of UFC, Endeavor is the owner of UFC and has been on a buying spree in recent years — especially in global sports entertainment (Professional Bull Riders being another example). And with stars like Dwayne Johnson and John Cena on Endeavor’s WME roster, it could create a pipeline to break out more wrestlers.
Cast of characters
What’s driving all the acquisition chatter? The fall of Vince McMahon — the reigning boss of WWE for the past 40 years. Once thought untouchable, a WSJ report earlier this month shed light on affairs with female employees (and subsequent hush payments) within the organization. Last week, McMahon resigned, elevating his daughter, Stephanie (who was acting as chief brand officer), as CEO. So, the business is still in the family, but she may be willing to entertain a change.
No matter who battles for the belt, Wall Street has nothing but love for WWE right now, with its stock rising 35% this year so far. Even with the leadership chaos, MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler says, “if anything, speculation of a potential sale of WWE now increases, and in our view, there would be no shortage of suitors.”