On a recent episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily, Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman sat down with Wrestlenomics business analyst Brandon Thurston to help break down the recent 2021 Q1 Earnings Call.
“It was really a Nick Khan podcast,” Thurston said. “Vince [McMahon] talked for 60 seconds and then no more. He didn’t participate in the Q&A, which is what happened last time too. He had an opening statement. I think he had a longer opening statement. He always has an opening statement, but he didn’t participate in the question-and-answer session with the stock analysts at all for the second time in a row. But this is a lot of Nick Khan giving his thoughts on the state of the media industry [and] breaking stories like NBC and the NHL are no longer going to work together.
“But I think the biggest takeaway is the hype that he added to around the idea that Amazon and Apple might get into bidding for live sports rights. So I read that as a coded message to FOX. ‘We’re going to shop SmackDown somewhat aggressively when the deal comes up to be renegotiated. That’ll probably start to be renegotiated late next year 2022, and if previous rounds of negotiation are any indication, they’ll announce the deal maybe the spring of 2023. So it sounds like Nick Khan is saying, ‘We’re going to be really interested in negotiating and trying to get the best value possible for SmackDown.
“I think RAW stays with NBCUniversal just because of how deep the relationship is between WWE and NBCUniversal with RAW, NXT [and] reality programming. But I think there’s a good chance that WWE will shop around SmackDown and maybe it goes to FOX, but maybe it goes to Amazon or Apple, who are among the biggest companies in the world and can certainly afford to pay a great deal of money if they’re looking to invest further in their streaming services (Prime and Apple TV) to get ahead in this competitive streaming space.”
The WWE – Peacock deal has many pundits speculating that NBCUniversal may soon buy out WWE since that would be more cost-effective than simply renting out WWE content. Thurston noted the key factor that would prevent that from happening.
“I think it all depends on whether Vince McMahon is alive,” Thurston noted. “I think this company will never sell in the lifetime of Vince McMahon. As long as he’s working and he’s the CEO of the company, which I think he will be as long as he’s healthy enough to do it, he will never sell the company because this is his life and livelihood, and this is his everyday.
“And Nick Khan, I thought, really affirmed that idea in his interview that he did with Colin Cowherd on Colin Cowherd’s podcast where he basically said that he doesn’t think that Vince is going to sell the company. I’m sure that’s got to be something that the new president and Vince have discussed. So I don’t think that’s gonna happen, but I do think it makes increasing sense for NBCUniversal to acquire WWE. Why continue to lease content like RAW for hundreds of millions of dollars a year when you could own it and continue to exploit the value of WWE.
“I think there’s a number of ways still even yet to be realized in terms of how WWE intellectual property could be used to NBCUniversal’s benefit. There’s probably a way that WWE could be integrated into Universal Studios or something like that for example. So I think it makes increasing amount of sense considering they own RAW, they own NXT and reality TV, which is also important, but now, obviously Peacock owns the rights to the WWE Network content.”
You can follow Brandon on Twitter @BrandonThurston. The full audio and video from Brandon’s interview can be heard below: