NXT Episode 2 draws 1.006M viewers

September 27, 2019

The second episode of NXT on the USA Network scored 1.006 million viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  The ratings reflect a decrease in viewership from last week’s rating of over 1.17 million viewers.

It was the second week of WWE programming on the USA Network as it gets a head start on Turner’s debut of All Elite Wrestling on TNT.  The competition will surely bring about the best in content for the pro wrestling fan.

With the news that AXS TV will carry Impact Wrestling on Tuesday night’s, we are seeing a renaissance for the pro wrestling fan.

Next week’s debut of AEW will certainly take away some live viewers from NXT although we will have to see the impact on how many households turn into wrestling Wednesday nights.

NXT Episode 1 on USA Network draws 1.179M viewers

September 19, 2019

The debut of WWE’s NXT on the USA Network Wednesday night drew 1.179 million viewers per Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.  It was the first show on cable television for the WWE-owned “developmental” roster of sports entertainers.

The debut gets a head start on the debut of the new AEW wrestling promotion that will be shown on TNT.  The competition will be reminiscent of the “Monday Night Wars” that happened during the 1990s when WWE and WCW competed head-to-head against each other on USA and TNT.

The WWE’s NXT had been shown exclusively on the WWE Network.  The show’s second hour will still be shown on the Network while the first hour will be on the USA Network.

The ratings made it the 4th highest rated cable show on Wednesday night.  It also drew a 0.43 rating in the A18-49 demo.

Notably, the highest-rated show on the USA Network the Wednesday preceding NXT’s debut was an episode of Suits which drew 965,000 viewers.

Right off the bat, we see that the WWE on Wednesday night will bring an immediate impact in ratings.  When AEW debuts one might expect a decrease in the viewership as the audiences will be split (assuming, as rumors indicate, that AEW and NXT will be shown at 5pmPT/8pmET.

Ahead of the biggest event of its year, WWE files TRO to protect its trademarks

April 5, 2019

As wrestling fans descend on New York for Wrestlemania weekend, the WWE has filed a preemptory complaint to ward off trademark infringers that may sell merchandise bearing trademarks owned by the company.

In a verified complaint filed in New York, it requested that the Court issue a temporary restraining order and seizure against sales of goods with counterfeit marks.  Essentially this would enable the WWE to immediately stop the bootleg sale of goods on the spot.

As a part of the request, WWE has included a schedule of its 2019-2020 live events schedule to obtain relief for the rest of the year.  It claims that it has encountered counterfeiters at other events and requests the Court’s order.

Complaint by on Scribd

The WWE brings up the fact that when it held Wrestlemania in New Jersey in 2013, it requested and was granted the same thing.

As for why it needs an order to confiscate counterfeit merchandise, the WWE cites the poor quality of the knockoffs.  Since this motion was done without naming defendants, it felt the need to let the court know of several cases that the court denied in the past.  This included the questions of why the WWE could not name defendants and the potential for a lack of jurisdiction as a result.

Payout Perspective:

As one might expect, the WWE aggressively protects its trademarks and with a huge event such as Wrestlemania, it’s clear that they do not want anything or anyone to get in their way including those that may want to make some money off of their name

Sponsors gear up for Summerslam this Sunday

August 14, 2017

The biggest WWE event of the summer occurs this Sunday as Summerslam will take place on Sunday, August 19th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The  Sports Business Journal reports on the sponsors that are using the event as an activation for its brand.

The event will be co-presented by KFC and Cricket Wireless.  Also, eSports property Rocket League makes its first appearance at Summerslam.  The property had been present on WWE broadcasts and recent PPVs.

In addition, DiGiorno pizza and video game maker 2K will be returning as sponsors for the event.

Dolph Ziggler will be in a commercial for Cricket Wireless which will premiere during the event which will air on national TV thereafter.  It will also host an anti-bullying campaign.  KFC will do more of an integration with the event as it will be woven into skits during Summerslam featuring the KFC Colonel.

Rocket League, which will be the presenting sponsor for the WWE’s NXT Takeover brand the night before will host a tournament featuring WWE performers on the day of Summerslam.

DiGiorno will launch a new product which will be featured across WWE social platforms.

For video game players, 2K will launch WWE2K18 on Friday in Manhattan at event featuring several WWE performers.

The article notes that the WWE has seen a 25% increase in partnership revenue this year.

Payout Perspective:
The allure of partnering with the WWE for this event is its robust social media presence and its crossover appeal.  These brands recognize the demos of the WWE and are willing to work with them (and vice versa) more than just plastering logos on the broadcast.  Notably, KFC’s use of WWE performers in a skit during Summerslam.  The partnerships reflect the WWE’s continued efforts to increase revenues through partnerships.

WWE announces Q2 2017 financial results

July 27, 2017

The WWE beat profit forecasts as it announced its Q2 (ending June 30, 2017) 2017 results on Thursday.  It announced that revenue increased to a record $214.6 million.  The WWE Network average more than 1.63 million average paid subscribers over the second quarter.

WWE stock was up slightly in after hours trading to $21.94.  The company reported net income of $5.1 million or $0.06 per diluted share as compared to $0.8 million or $0.01 per share in 2016.

The WWE’s shares have climbed 18 percent since the start of 2017.  The revenue for Q2 2016 was $199 million.

The increase in revenue was driven by the monetization of video content across the Company’s Television, Network and Digital Media business segments according to the Company.  Television rights fees appeared to be the main revenue driver in this segment.

As for the network, the subscribers are up from year to year with last year subscribers at 1,560,000.  As of the end of 2016, there were 1,473,000 subscribers.  However, the increase in subscriptions changes when contemplating the actual paid subscriber base.  At the end of Q2 there were 1,568,000 subscribers versus 1,511,000 subscribers at the end of Q2 in 2016.

It also announced that WrestleMania this past April broke the attendance record for the Orlando Citrus Bowl with 75,245 fans and reached 1.95 million global households on the WWE Network.

Former ESPN/WWE anchor Grisham joins UFC

January 3, 2017

Former WWE broadcaster Todd Grisham will be taking an on-air position with the UFC. Grisham had been an ESPN anchor for the past 6 years.

Mike Goldberg ended his play-by-play duties with the company on Friday at UFC 207.  There is still no official word as to the PPV announcer to replace Goldberg.

Grisham confirmed his job with the UFC with MMA Junkie.  He will make his debut at the commentary desk at UFC Fight Night 103.

While he was at ESPN, Grisham worked on the now defunct “MMA Live” show and also provided in-ring interviews and commentating for Glory Kickboxing.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Grisham graduated from the University of West Georgia in 1998 and then was a local sports anchor for several years before moving to Fox and then to the WWE from January 2004-October 2011.  He then went to ESPN until his move to the UFC this year.

Payout Perspective:

Grisham is no stranger to combat sports and I would not think the quality should fall off.  The former ESPN anchor is likely one of many changes coming to the company in the new year.

Gawker turns on Daulerio in Hogan sex tape case

December 4, 2016

It appears that Gawker Media, LLC is turning on former Editor in Chief A.J. Daulerio per an article in the Wall Street Journal.  In legal papers filed in the Gawker’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, the company cites to the Florida jury verdict that awarded Hulk Hogan $140 million as violating employment terms while Daulerio was with the company.

The company is seeking to sever its ties with Daulerio as it is rejecting his request that Gawker continue to pay his legal fees over the fight over the video.

After the judgment, Gawker and its founder Nick Denton filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Most of Gawker websites were sold at auction to Univision for $135 million.  In legal filings, Gawker argued that Daulerio was to blame and cited the belief that Daulerio maintain that the Hogan video stay online despite the former pro wrestler’s contention it be removed.

Hogan and Gawker have reached a settlement of the jury verdict but the parties are now looking to how to fund Hogan’s $31 million settlement.

The WSJ article suggests that the move by Gawker is a strategy for the company to force Daulerio to accept a settlement of terms to pay the Hogan settlement.  Daulerio is said to owe $100,000 as part of the payment for the settlement with Hogan.  Apparently, Daulerio has not signed off on the deal due to “how he can discuss Mr. Bollea’s case.”  Daulerio, who was individually named in the original lawsuit, has considered appealing the decision on his own.

Gawker creditors have until Monday to vote on the settlement plan.

Payout Perspective:

It will be interesting to see what happens on Monday.  It was clear that this was a possible outcome when Gawker filed for bankruptcy.  Despite defending Daulerio in the civil trial, they now are turning to the interests of its creditors in the bankruptcy case.  As an individual, it would be hard to see how Daulerio could still fund his own appeal of the Hogan judgment.  Will keep you updated.

Record economic impact for WrestleMania 32

November 18, 2016

The WWE announced that WrestleMania 32 generated $170.4 million in economic impact for the Dallas/Arlington region this past April.  The results come from a study conducted by the Enigma Research Corporation.

The $170.4 million is a new record for the economic impact the WWE’s annual event does for a host region.  It is the 5th consecutive year that WrestleMania generated more than $100 million in economic impact.

Last 5 WrestleManias and their economic impact

Wrestlemania 27: Atlanta – $62 million

Wrestlemania 28: Miami – $102.7 million

Wrestlemania 29: NY/NJ – $101.2 million

Wrestlemania 30: New Orleans – $142 million

Wrestlemania 31: Santa Clara – $139 million

 Payout Perspective:

It’s not shocking that with the event taking place at AT&T Stadium that the WWE would set an economic impact record.  Obviously, the study was commissioned to maximize on the impact the event had on the area as it will serve as a marketing tool for cities to lobby for the event for their city and/or region.  This news happened the same week that the WWE is set to roll out a new business model for its four annual major PPVs (WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series and Royal Rumble) which includes bringing all of its WWE brands to the city for shows.  Thus, NXT, Raw, Smackdown Live will have shows in the city in addition to the PPV.  For the WWE, the plan is to have more fans seek out the events as destination “vacations.”  This would have more of an economic impact on cities hosting these events.

The fallout from Brock Lesnar’s potential drug violation

July 18, 2016

On Friday, Brock Lesnar was flagged by the United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) of a potential violation of the UFC anti-doping policy due to an out of competition test from June 28, 2016.  Although testing results of Lesnar’s “B” sample are yet to be revealed, the fallout from Lesnar’s appearance hurts the UFC and possibly the WWE.

On June 5, 2016, it was announced that Lesnar would fight at UFC 200 on July 9, 2016.  The signing was unprecedented because he was under contract with the WWE.  Yet, the WWE granted Lesnar the chance to fight in the Octagon once again.  Despite the fact that the WWE has its own drug testing policy (known as the Wellness Policy – Lesnar has never been flagged for a violation), Lesnar was tested by USADA eight times in just the month lead-up to his fight against Mark Hunt.  He took 5 tests in the first two weeks after it was announced he was returning.  Multiple tests came up clean.

Despite the tests, the UFC policy handled by USADA dictated that a returning athlete to the UFC most give the company four months written notice so that USADA can put the athlete in the pool of those it may selectively test.  But, the UFC anti-doping policy allows an exemption for a returning athlete that may be subject to drug testing.  Per 5.7.1 of the UFC anti-doping policy:

An Athlete who gives notice of retirement to UFC, or has otherwise ceased to have a contractual relationship with UFC, may not resume competing in UFC Bouts until he/she has given UFC written notice of his/her intent to resume competing and has made him/herself available for Testing for a period of four months before returning to competition. UFC may grant an exemption to the four-month written notice rule in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to an Athlete.

The key sentence here is the last sentence:  “UFC may grant an exemption to the four-month written notice rule in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to an Athlete.”

Since the UFC Anti-Doping Policy did not begin until July 1, 2015 and Lesnar’s last fight in the UFC prior to UFC 200 was December 2011, he was considered a new athlete.  There has not been an official statement as to whether the UFC granted the 4-month exemption due to an “exceptional circumstance” or if it was “manifestly unfair to an Athlete.”  Of course, either waiver could be easily explained.

But, one has to think that Lesnar and the UFC had contemplated his return as he had been training prior to the June announcement of his return to the Octagon.  One might suggest that Lesnar could have notified the UFC of his return in the requisite 4 months to allow for the proper testing to occur.

However, it would seem that the parties wanted the Lesnar announcement to be a surprise.  Recall, that Ariel Helwani and others from MMA Fighting were thrown out of a UFC event and Helwani was banned for life due to his report of Lesnar’s return prior to the UFC’s opportunity to make it themselves.  Helwani along with his colleagues were reinstated a couple days later.

Notwithstanding the notice issue, let’s take a look at what Lesnar could face as a result of testing positive for a banned substance.  First, Lesnar’s “B” sample, a second sample taken to determine the validity of the finding in the first sample, must confirm the initial finding of a banned substance.  If this happens, Lesnar will face discipline from Nevada and the UFC per the anti-doping policy.

Since the infraction took place in Nevada, Lesnar will have to appear before the Nevada State Athletic Commission to address the drug test failure.  At that time, we should know what drug(s) Lesnar tested positive for in his out-of-competition sample.  In 2015, Nevada adopted guidelines for combat sports which included a 36-month suspension and 50-75% of the purse for a first-time offender for someone taking anabolic steroids.

In addition, the UFC anti-doping policy would discipline Lesnar.

Under Section 10 for Sanctions on Individuals, Section 10.1 specifically states:

An Anti-Doping Policy Violation occurring during, or in connection with, a Bout may, upon the decision of UFC, lead to Disqualification of all of the Athlete’s results obtained in that Bout with all Consequences, including, without limitation, forfeiture of title, ranking, purse or other compensation, except as provided in Article 10.1.1.

Read broadly, under the UFC-USADA Anti-Doping Guidelines, Lesnar could have his purse for the bout and “other compensation” taken from him.  It would hurt enough that Lesnar would lose out on his $2.5 million reported purse but “other compensation” could mean money he makes from his PPV “upside.”

Not only could that happen, but the section further states that UFC could fine Lesnar up to $500,000 per Section 10.10 of the UFC-USADA Anti-Doping Guidelines.  In addition, he could have his win against Mark Hunt overturned to a no decision per discretion of the Nevada State Athletic Commission according to section 467.850.  This would not sting as much since Lesnar did not have a win bonus to forfeit.  Regardless, he still could have a substantial amount of money taken away.

The monetary fine would be the hardest penalty for Lesnar.  The $2.5 million is the largest reported payout for a UFC fighter in its history.  But, Lesnar was going to make more from his PPV guarantee.  It is being reported that the UFC 200 PPV drew 1.1 to 1.2 million PPV buys.  In most markets, the PPV for UFC 200 was $59.99 HD and $49.99 SD.  Lesnar was projected to make $3-5 million in addition to his $2.5 million.

Mark Hunt, Lesnar’s opponent has demanded that he receive half of Lesnar’s $2.5 million or else he is requesting his release from his UFC contract.  Hunt, who made $700,000 for taking on Lesnar, will be disappointed to learn that under the UFC-USADA guidelines, any money forfeited by an athlete would be under the UFC’s discretion “to be applied to offset the costs of the Program or given to anti-doping research.”

The UFC could also fine Lesnar pursuant to its Code of Conduct which imposes discipline based on misconduct.  Under its Code, “misconduct” may include, “Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the UFC.”  A violation of its drug program could fall under this.

There is precedent for a fine as Jon Jones was docked $25,000 for failing a drug test in December 2014.  Of course, Jones’ drug test failure was for cocaine use.  We note that the detection of this drug was done out of competition and should have not been tested for according to the rules.

Lesnar’s only statement related to Friday’s news of his potential violation was a vague “we’ll get to the bottom of this.”

The WWE does not seem to be concerned with the potential violation and has indicated his next appearance will be at its big event Summerslam, August 21st.  They have not addressed the potential violation.  From its perspective, its an MMA matter, that a WWE matter.

However, the question looms as to whether a Nevada State Athletic Commission suspension would affect his wrestling career.  Some state athletic commissions oversee professional wrestling.  Most commissions honor suspensions of an athlete in other states.  Would a suspension in combat sports carry over to professional wrestling?  We will see.

WWE not actively promoting Lesnar at UFC 200

July 5, 2016

Despite receiving the blessing of the WWE, the company will not be actively promoting Brock Lesnar’s fight against Mark Hunt this Saturday at UFC 200.

The WWE’s Stephanie McMahon told Business Insider that Lesnar’s appearance at UFC 200 is a “special case” but not a cross-promotional opportunity.  As the WWE has done in the past, it differentiated the two companies that seem to be inextricably compared.  McMahon stated that the “UFC is not a competitor to the WWE because we [WWE] are entertainment and UFC is competitive sport.  It’s very different.”  She also made it clear that while they were not supporting the fight, the more awareness Brock’s appearance makes at 200, there is value for the WWE brand.

While the WWE may not overtly support Lesnar’s octagon appearance this Saturday, it’s clear that the WWE is the indirect recipient of mainstream press.  For its part, the WWE is taking advantage of the publicity.

It announced that Lesnar will be on the cover of this year’s WWE video game, WWE 2K17.  It also announced that Lesnar’s opponent for Summerslam would be announced this week on USA’s Smackdown show.

Payout Perspective:

It’s an interesting “hands-somewhat-off” approach that the WWE is making.  It’s clear that Lesnar is the biggest draw for the UFC this weekend and this should please the WWE.  But, in order to stay true to its brand and the entertainment component of the product, it is not doing anything out of the ordinary to promote Brock’s presence at UFC 200.  It’s clear that the WWE could have done a special on its own network centering on Brock’s return to the octagon or even make more mention of it during its television programming.  Is it a mistake?  The WWE is keen on its brand and the decision to keep UFC Brock and WWE Brock separate (even though the UFC may not) seems like a thought out decision.

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