World Wide Entertainment stock in question over misconduct scandal
We all knew WWE matches were staged, but they were still entertaining as hell. The real theatrics were behind the scenes, though. Misconduct allegations have emerged on CEO Vince McMahon — and the story got even wilder this week…
McMahons keeping WWE in the family
WWE has largely stayed a family business since McMahon bought WWE from his dad in 1982. He turned WWE into a media powerhouse valued at $4.6B — creating superstars like The Rock, John Cena and Hulk Hogan.
- McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon, was in charge of branding — while her husband ran talent acquisition.
- Family members and WWE execs dominate the board of directors, and Vince owns the majority of voting shares.
But WWE had its share of controversies — surviving many scandals, including federal charges for allegedly distributing steroids to wrestlers, which nearly took the company down. Now it faces its next one.
Vince McMahon is under investigation for secretly paying a $3M settlement to a former employee over an alleged affair. He resigned last month, and Stephanie McMahon stepped in as interim CEO.
This week, the story heated up even more. Vince McMahon was previously accused of rape in 1992, and this Monday, an ex-pro wrestler claimed it was true.
WWE found a new streaming home
WWE was early to the streaming game — launching their streaming service WWE Network in 2014. Subscribers quickly peaked at ~1.6M, and the service was shut down last year.
COVID impacted WWE’s business — which relied on live events — but it quickly bounced back and even reached a milestone last year, breaking $1B in sales.
After shutting down its streaming service, WWE signed a 5-year $1B deal with Comcast-owned Peacock to become the exclusive home of WWE’s content.
- Networks have been more than happy to pay for content amid the streaming wars.
- With WWE’s Peacock deal last year, domestic wrestling was estimated to be worth $748.8M — up over 4x from $150M three years before.
Investors: Are networks overpaying for WWE?
But something doesn’t make sense… WWE viewership and ratings have declined over the years, yet networks continue to pay a higher price — sending WWE’s earnings to a record high. Surprisingly, $WWE is up 24% in 2022.
Beyond WWE’s allegations, WWE has other problems:
- Yes, it’s got a hardcore base of fans — but it’ll have to figure out ways to reach younger audiences interested in wrestling.
- If they fail, their lucrative deals could be at risk, especially when streaming platforms like Netflix are beginning to pull back on spending.