WWE has taken calls from other companies looking to purchase the sports entertainment heavyweight, but they are not looking to sell.
WWE President & Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan, pictured above with WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, and NFL star Eli Manning at a March of Dimes Sports Luncheon back in November, recently spoke with Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand and revealed the interest from other companies.
Khan confirmed that WWE has taken some inbound calls from other companies looking to buy, but he stressed that WWE is not in active talks trying to sell the company, and they are not actively looking to sell.
Khan also commented on how Vince sees the company, and WWE bringing him on a year and a half ago.
“If it once was a mom-and-pop shop, Vince certainly didn’t believe it was anymore,” Khan said. “Part of what I believe he was looking for in bringing in someone from the outside was to make sure the community at large didn’t treat it that way. We believe we’re a global content company.”
It was noted how Khan didn’t just target the broader sports and entertainment community with this push as he felt that he needed to change internal attitudes as well. While working for CAA Sports agency, Khan is the one who represented WWE when they sold their media rights to FOX and NBCUniversal. The FOX deal is worth $1 billion over 5 years, while the NBC deal is worth around $1.3 billion over 5 years.
Khan noted that during those 2018 negotiations, he was struck by the attitude of some WWE staffers, most of whom were not steeped in the intricacies of media. He said some of them acted as though they were fortunate just to have a seat at the table, and were content to negotiate with executives far down the chain of command.
Khan said he felt like that business attitude, as well as an overall knowledge of the media marketplace, needed to change in WWE.
“Vince believed that WWE was at a place where it had earned a seat at the adult table, but others in the company didn’t see it that way,” Khan said.
It’s no secret that WWE has undergone many internal changes since hiring Khan in August 2020. He and Vince have overseen an almost complete turnover of WWE’s media division, and the types of media deals WWE cuts have changed, as have the executives who negotiate those deals.
Khan went on a hiring spree soon after joining WWE as his goal was to bring in executives who shared Vince’s vision about the size and influence of WWE.
“For the company to be treated the way that Vince, Stephanie, [WWE executive] Kevin Dunn and myself and others believed it should be treated in the community, you needed executives who reflected that, who had range, who could get people on the phone and who could be taken seriously by their peers,” Khan said.
The corporate changes led to a series of moves that show a changing media strategy in WWE, which includes the new streaming strategy that saw the company license the WWE Network to Peacock as part of a 5 year, $1 billion deal. WWE executives see the Peacock deal as a template for similar international streaming deals.
WWE also decided to partner with outside production houses on programming featuring some of its biggest Superstars. Khan said WWE wants to be in business with everyone who is a real player.
“We want to be in business with everybody who is a real player in this business,” Khan said. “Understanding the business — where it’s at and where it’s heading — is a key part to all of this.”
Regarding Saturday’s WWE Royal Rumble event from The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Khan noted that ticket sales are tracking at an all-time high for The Rumble. One of WWE’s newer strategies is to stage events on different nights of the week, which is why SummerSlam and The Rumble were moved to Saturdays, among others. WWE credited the SummerSlam night change with helping the event post the largest gate in its history.
“Obviously, this is a huge opportunity to grow revenue in the live events business,” Khan said.
Stay tuned for more.
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