Big changes at WWE: Executive shakeup as sale rumors swirl
By: Joshua Strauss
Jan. 29, 2023
The WWE has long been famed for its ability to put on a show. Its events are always a spectacle and many times the story in the ring includes characters most known for their role on the business side of the corporation.
Photo Credit: Associated Press
News has emerged that the WWE is eyeing a potential sale of its operations, with the Sports Business Journal reporting that the company has recruited JPMorgan to evaluate the financials of a potential sale. While rumors are swirling about the future of the WWE, moves are also being made internally.
Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon is stepping down, making Nick Kahn the sole head of the company. Furthermore, just six months after ostensibly retiring from the company after his involvement in a sex scandal came to light, WWE founder Vince McMahon has returned to the board along with former WWE executives Michelle Wilson and George Barrios.
These big moves all coincide with the fact that WWE’s current broadcasting deal is set to expire in 2024. Currently, NBC’s Peacock serves as the streaming home of the WWE network and exclusive source for many of WWE’s largest events such as Wrestlemania, while FOX and NBC share the remainder of the broadcast.
McMahon noted that the timing wasn't a coincidence stating, “WWE is entering a critical juncture in its history with the upcoming media rights negotiations coinciding with increased industry-wide demand for quality content and live events and with more companies seeking to own the intellectual property on their platforms. The only way for WWE to fully capitalize on this opportunity is for me to return as Executive Chairman and support the management team in the negotiations for our media rights and to combine that with a review of strategic alternatives.”
One strategic alternative could be a sale of the corporation, currently valued at over $6.65 billion. Although nothing is set in stone, there is much speculation regarding potential buyers.
One notable candidate is Endeavor, the holding company that currently owns the UFC. Other potential candidates include Comcast (the parent company of NBC), as well as Disney subsidiary, Fox, which would be a rematch between the two entertainment giants.
Comcast and the Walt Disney company recently went toe-to-toe in 2018 in a bidding war over European media company, Sky, which saw Comcast victorious acquiring Sky for $39 billion.
In addition to a potential sale of WWE, CNBC has reported that WWE’s smaller rival, All Elite Wrestling (AEW), is interested in a merger. AEW is currently owned by the Kahn family which also owns the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
While the dust is far from settling, one thing is clear: the WWE is in for an exciting couple of months and it will be very interesting to see which direction McMahon steers the company.