Vince McMahon announced last month that WWE was looking into a "transformative" WWE Network deal with the possibility of selling pay-per-view rights to a large streaming provider. The move was discussed during the Q4 earnings call after the departures of WWE Co-Presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson. McMahon stated that if the deal went through, it would be announced before the end of the quarter, which would be before next Wednesday.
Earlier this week, McMahon entered into a variable prepaid forward contract to pledge approximately 3.5 million shares of his Class B common stock. According to a WWE filing with the SEC, McMahon entered into the contract to provide WWE liquidity while allowing him to maintain voting and ordinary dividend rights in the stock.
Analyst Alan Gould of Loop Capital stated in a note to investors that the announcement indicates that a transformative deal for WWE to sell their pay-per-views to a large streaming company is not happening.
"We do not believe Mr. McMahon would be entering a prepaid forward contract on 15% of his shares, about 3.5 million of them, in front of such an announcement," Gould stated, via Deadline.
Gould noted the slip in ratings for RAW and NXT, and said that it will be difficult to continue weekly live TV if stars are getting sick or the government requires social distancing. He said that while WWE is likely to bounce back after taking a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, it will not be able to get back to where it was. He added that WrestleMania will be generating less revenue this year by taking place at the Performance Center.
"Wrestlemania will not be the same spectacle it typically is out of the Orlando Performance Center as opposed to Tampa Stadium in front of 70,000+ live fans," Gould said. "WWE was forced to move Wrestlemania to the Orlando Center and air the event without fans. The show will generate less revenue and likely less ongoing WWE Network subscribers. It's been a driver, responsible for the largest number of gross adds each year to the WWE Network and a recurring monthly revenue generator. However, the event will lose its ticket and most of its merchandise and sponsorship revenue."
As of this writing, WWE stock is up 2% to $35.06 per share.
Marc Middleton contributed to this article.