WWE is ready to expand from wrestling to a full-scale media universe, sources told Front Office Sports.
The strategy is to become the next Marvel, with content driven by characters like Roman Reigns and Undertaker.
Recent moves are telling. WWE is hiring media executives from outside the business and forging content deals worth billions.
- WWE signed a five-year, $1 billion deal with NBC Universal’s Peacock for network rights in January.
- Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts credited WWE and “The Office” with helping Peacock reach 42 million subscribers in the first quarter. April’s WrestleMania 37 was the most-viewed live event ever for Peacock.
- In 2020, WWE hired CAA’s Co-Head of Television Nick Khan as president and chief revenue officer. On Tuesday, they brought on Jamie Horowitz as executive vice president, development and digital. At DAZN, Horowitz teamed up with Sylvester Stallone, LeBron James, and Jay-Z to create original documentaries and unscripted series.
- Along with Horowitz, the WWE hired Samira Shah as general counsel and Matt Drew as senior vice president of international. At the board of directors level, WWE added Khan, former ESPN content chief Connor Schell and Atlanta Hawks Chief Executive Officer Steve Koonin. The WWE previously elected Erika Nardini, Chief Executive Officer of Barstool Sports, to its board.
Marvel is a great model: It went from a bankrupt comic book outfit to a box-office behemoth in film, TV, and theme parks in around 25 years. WWE sees similar growth potential.
WWE programming now reaches 900 million homes worldwide and the company posted record revenue of $974.2 million in 2020.
“At first glance, WWE’s a wrestling company. But it’s really a media/content company with a treasure trove of IP that appeals to young demos,” the source told FOS.