NBCUniversal Business Affairs Manager Mik Pandit joined Eric Bischoff during the latest episode of Strictly Business to talk about streaming platforms in the wrestling business and the keys to success for AEW’s future in pursuing a platform. Pandit spoke about WWE’s ability to create compelling content outside of the ring, with that being a spot AEW needs to grow at.
“I would say what I think [WWE] has done very well, that AEW needs to be mindful of is WWE content is everywhere where the consumer is,” Pandit said. “If you watch broadcast television, they’re on Fox. If you watch cable television, they’re on [the USA Network]. If you stream because you want to see next-day content, for now, they’re on HULU. If you want to watch the monthly pay-per-views, they’re on Peacock. But I think what they’ve done on top of that is the outside-of-the-ring content that has cultivated to the point where the brand remains present in people’s minds who don’t watch wrestling.
“It’s valuable for driving the demographics that might not necessarily watch the in-ring content to the in-ring content. The whole reason Total Bellas, Total Divas, Miz and Mrs. have been on TV so long is because that drives a mainly female viewership to the main content that they didn’t necessarily have. The Andre the Giant documentary that was on HBO was one of the most successful HBO sports documentaries that they’ve done, and now we’ve got two Vince McMahon projects. One which is sold to Netflix, the one which is still looking for another network, but these are all outside the ring ancillary products that do drive revenue and a following to the product and I think that’s something that AEW should be mindful of right now.”
It was announced a few months ago that Tony Khan and All Elite Wrestling had purchased the rights to Ring of Honor and their video library. When the purchase was made, many quickly spoke about how important the purchase of the company was for the amount of footage ROH has in their library now going directly to AEW. Continuing to talk about the future of streaming in the wrestling business, Mik Pandit also spoke about the live aspect of wrestling and why it holds more value than the library content.
“If the concern for a network is adding subscribers or maintaining subscribers, the live component will always be more valuable than the library content,” Pandit said. “That’s why the live component costs so much more in media rights for the networks to pay for.”
Mik Pandit also spoke about the ongoing Discovery and WarnerMedia merger that is happening and detailed what it could mean for AEW. The NBCUniversal Executive also teased a potential new avenue AEW could go down to stream their content.
“If you had asked me that question two years ago, I would’ve said you’re probably right, it’s not a natural fit and if I was AEW I would build up as much as possible and hopefully license to Viacom or Paramount,” Mik Pandit said. “There are partnerships in place there but that’s what I would’ve said. Now with Discovery leadership in charge, the answer is we don’t really know how much of that leadership is going to want to still maintain that HBO brand and current spending levels. How many of them are going to say, ‘well, we’re going to pair down our spending a little bit.’ The brand might take a little bit of a hit but it will be offset by the number of subscribers and by how much less we’re spending on content. It’s also been made clear that at some point in the future, they’re looking to make Discovery+ and HBO into one kind of super app where all of that content would be available under one roof. That, to me, is a platform where wrestling and AEW fits.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Strictly Business with Eric Bischoff with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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