WWE Considering Selling Pay-Per-View Rights to ‘Major’ Streaming Service

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WWE is in talks to sell some of its video content—including pay-per-view broadcasts—to “major” streaming services, company chairman Vince McMahon said on Thursday’s earnings call. 

Currently, the WWE Network streaming service (which costs $9.99 per month) is home to all of the company’s pay-per-view events, as well as documentaries, series and a vast library of archival footage from WWE and other wrestling companies that have since been purchased by McMahon’s behemoth. 

WWE has been in the process of expanding the streaming network to include tiers of access at different price points (ranging from free to $14.99 per month). The tiered Network offerings were supposed to launch in January but were put on hold. 

“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 during the conference call, as transcribed by 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.”

Asked whether any of WWE’s offerings would be considered “off limits” in negotiations with an outside streaming partner, WWE interim CFO Frank Riddick said everything was on the table. 

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

If WWE sells some rights to another streaming service, an announcement is expected in the first quarter of 2020, McMahon said on the call. 

Moving pay-per-view events—the biggest draw for potential Network subscribers—off of the Network would be a significant change in strategy for WWE. The Network launched in 2014, offering all of WWE’s monthly PPVs (including major events like WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor series and the Royal Rumble) for a monthly subscription fee. Previously, pay-per-view events had been available through cable providers for $44.95 each ($54.95 for WrestleMania). All Elite Wrestling, the upstart WWE competitor funded by the billionaire Khan family, runs four pay-per-view events at an average cost $49.99. 

WWE Network subscriptions decreased 10% in the final quarter of 2019, WWE announced, to approximately 1.42 million. The company expects subscriptions to increase to about 1.47 million in the first quarter of 2020. 

WWE stock plunged 27% overnight last week after the company’s two co-presidents—George Barrios and Michelle Wilson—were forced out. The stock dropped another 15.5% Thursday after the company’s reported fourth-quarter revenue fell short of estimates.