WWE PPV rights valued at over $100 million

Feb 26, 2020 - by James Walsh

A new industry report estimates the value for broadcast rights to WWE’s PPVs at over $100 million. Brandon Thurston of WrestleNomics has published a new report that estimates the sale value of the 12 annual main roster WWE PPVs at between $105 million and $161 million. The report comes after Q4 financial results call earlier this month, in which Vince McMahon alluded to the possibility of licensing the rights out to a third party service. 

Thurston estimatges that in a potential scenario where the WWE Network continues while live PPVs air on another service, such a deal would likely result in an additional OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortization) of $13 million to $87 million for the company. The wide variance is due to uncertainty about the expenses associated with PPV events. This estimate assumes that subscribers to the WWE Network decreases by 80% due to the loss of live PPV streaming based on a poll he took where about a third of subscribers among 492 people polled said they would keep the Network in such a situation. Thurston notes that “Knowing the 492 respondents to this poll probably represent a more dedicated population of fans, and to be aggressive, I arbitrarily estimated a 20% retention on WWE’s current paid subscribers” which would be about 300,000 subscribers. 

The report also notes that the most profitable strategy for WWE would be to include access to live PPVs as part of a recurring subscription fee around the WWE Network’s current $9.99 price point while selling WrestleMania separately for a charge from $69 to $89. Thurston adds that moving main roster PPVs to a major streaming service would also very likely lead to a gross decline, and likely a net decline, in WWE popularity which would affect WWE’s revenue “downstream” due to disengagement — i.e. in terms of WWE Network subscriptions, merchandise, TV viewers and the like. He notes that the risk “might be minimized if there’s a solution that neatly brings WWE Network subscribers into the streaming partner’s interface, possible with free trial access.” 

You can see the full report, with Thurston’s methodology for how he came up with his figures, at the link above. It’s important to note of course that these are estimates based off of studying available financial information and trends, and not an indication that WWE is going to go in the directions suggested as possible in the report.

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