DirecTV not happy with WWE Network

January 10, 2014

LA Times reports that DirecTV may no longer carry WWE PPVs as a result of its announcement that it is launching a new over the top network.

Pay-TV distributors and the WWE usually split the cost to consumers 50-50 on PPVs thus making it a “solid revenue source,” according to the Times article.  WWE contends that it will continue to air its PPVs for those unable or unwilling to adapt to the WWE Network but DirecTV sees that as cutting into its revenues.

Via LA Times:

“Clearly we need to quickly re-evaluate the economics and viability of their business with us, as it now appears the WWE feels they do not need their PPV distributors,” DirecTV said in a statement, adding that the audience for its events “has been steadily declining, and this new low-cost competitive offering will only accelerate this trend.”

The WWE stated that it hopes to continue its relationship with its distributors and allow “fans the choice between two offerings.”

Payout Perspective:

Although we’ve heard nothing but praises for the WWE Network, we get the first bit of criticism from one of the company’s working relationships.  From DTV’s perspective, it’s obvious that the new network is going to cut into the revenue it expects from the WWE product especially with Wrestlemania, its highest purchased and priced PPV, on the network this year.  The WWE would like to get both bites of the apple with it receiving revenue from the network and those purchasing it via traditional PPV.  Will other distributors follow DirecTV’s cue in discontinue offering WWE PPVs.  We shall see how this turns out.

Pricing out PPVs for rest of 2013

August 17, 2013

As fall is right around the corner, MMA Payout takes a look at the combat sports pay per views to look forward to through 2013.  The bottom line is that fans will be digging into their pockets for some extra money this fall.

The below is a list of major PPVs occurring through 2013.  The prices are in HD, because we know you like the best, and its the only way to watch these live events.

Date Event Price (HD) Comment
August 18, 2013 WWE Summerslam $54.95 Punk v. Lesnar is the MMA tie-in here in the company’s second biggest PPV of the year.
August 31, 2013 UFC 164: Henderson v. Pettis $54.95 Will we see a redux of The Showtime Kick?
September 14, 2013 Showtime PPV: Mayweather v. Canelo $74.95 The biggest boxing PPV in years with the biggest price tag.
September 21, 2013 UFC 165: Jones v. Gustaffson $54.95 Two title defenses on this PPV featuring best P4P fighter.
October 12, 2013 HBO PPV: Marquez v. Bradley $54.95 Last two fighters to defeat Manny Pacquiao meet here.
October 19, 2013 UFC 166: Cain v. JDS III $54.95 The trilogy to decide the Heavyweight title.
November 2, 2013 Bellator PPV: Rampage v. Tito $35-$45 (est.) Alvarez-Chandler real main event here.
November 16, 2013 UFC 167: Hendricks v. GSP $54.95 Johny Hendricks latest challenger to GSP’s title.
November 23, 2013 HBO PPV: Pacquiao v. Rios $69.95 (est.) Look for this PPV to be bumped to $75.  Its Pacquiao’s attempt to stop 2 fight losing streak.
December 28, 2013 UFC 168: Weidman v. Silva $54.95 The rematch everyone is waiting for plus Rousey-Tate should bring company a show close to 1 million PPV buys. 

If you purchased all of the PPVs you will be spending approximately $575.50 (assuming Bellator PPV on high end at $45.95) in addition to your cable bill.

Even with FS1 and 2 showing free UFC fights there are lots of interesting UFC events plus some boxing PPVs to look out for this fall.  Marquez v. Bradley may be the sleeper card as it’s a PPV that will be based on Marquez as the main draw.

Wrestlemania 29 PPV buy rate lower than last year

May 27, 2013

Figure Four Online reported over the weekend that the WWE has officially released its first Wrestlemania 29 buy rate.  The worldwide buy rate for this year’s annual event was 1,048,000 which is lower than Wrestlemania 28.

The Wrestlemania 28 PPV buy rate was lowered a couple times from an initial 1.3M buys down to somewhere between 1.1 and 1.2M PPV buys.  The WWE appeared cautious when it mentioned PPV buys at its First Quarter earnings call which led one to speculate whether the buy rate did not meet expectations.

Payout Perspective:

This year’s PPV buy rate is likely an accurate buy rate and won’t be calibrated up and down too much as what occurred last year.  This year the WWE bumped up its PPV $5 to $69.99 (for HD), $64.99 (non-HD).  Could the price point be the reason for the less than expected buy rates.  Or, was it the card featuring a rehash of last year’s main event, or maybe a combination?  The WWE still had a stellar live attendance/gate with 80K plus attending for a gate over $11M.  But, it believed that with the event being in the New York area (technically New Jersey), the company would do a better number than last year.

The Wrestling Post – Wrestlemania Edition

April 3, 2013

Welcome to another edition of The Wrestling Post.  Its the biggest week of the year for the WWE as Wrestlemania 29 happens this Sunday at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

New Jersey Area Expected to Receive Huge Financial Upside from Wrestlemania 29

The Bergen Record (NJ) reports that the area can expect a financial impact to the region comparable to last year’s $102.7M economic impact in Miami.  In addition, to the financial boon from wrestling fans from travel, hotels, food, rental cars and entertainment, Miami received $15.3M in local, state and county taxes.  Last year’s attendance at Wrestlemania 28 was 78,363.  First day ticket sales for this year’s event was at a record 52,000.   This generated over $10 million in gross revenue as compared to $6.3 million last year.  The report also states that hotels surrounding the event are sold out.  

Wrestlemania 29

Some interesting demographic figures from the article:

Who goes? attracts 12.3 million unique monthly visitors, and 58 percent of them have at least some college education and 46 percent have a household income greater than $60,000, according to a WWE website. The company says 74 percent of its television audience is over 21 years old, and 36 percent are female. It does particularly well with black and Hispanic viewers.

Payout Take:  The wrestling may be fake, but the money is real.  The annual wrestling extravaganza is a destination event for fans and the WWE has supplemented Sunday’s event with an Expo (WWE Axxess), a “Hall of Fame” ceremony and other events this week.  The economic impact to the area is what appeals to cities to have this event in their city.  Despite what you think about pro wrestling, Wrestlemania is one of the biggest economic generators around.  

Social Media Explosion Supporting Wrestlemania

The WWE has announced a “record social media activation” for Wrestlemania 29.  The number of initiatives going on this week include CEO Vince McMahon joining twitter, Wrestlemania will stream on multiple platforms including Apple, Android and Windows 8 devices. The WWE also will provide bloggers with embeddable content on a new Yahoo! web site. It has included celebrity “social media ambassadors” including Jimmy Fallon, Lil’ Wayne and Charlie Sheen to name a few.  These ambassadors will be tweeting from various events the WWE will be conducting throughout the week.

Payout Take:  The WWE is ahead of the line with social media and the brand activation shows. It has taken advantage of its tech/social media-savvy demo and given them tools to play with which in turn will help promote the WWE brand.  Certainly, the WWE will be trending all over twitter this weekend.  It is interesting that it has not utilized Tout more as it had invested in the video snippet, social media platform.  

Hart Family Settles with WWE

The Washington Post via AP reported that the Hart Family has settled with the WWE in a lawsuit involving the rights to the likenesses and images of deceased WWE wrestler Owen Hart.  Hart died in a staged accident at a WWE PPV.  The Hart Family sued in June 2010 alleging that the WWE did not pay royalties to the Hart Family (or Owen’s estate) for the use of Owen in WWE produced content.  No terms of the settlement were disclosed although it is rumored that the WWE will be able to utilize Owen’s likeness and images again.

Payout Take:  The real in-ring death of Owen Hart was one of the more tragic events in pro wrestling history.  Its good to see that the two sides in this lawsuit have settled and it appears that the sides have come to an agreement on the use of Hart’s likenesses and imagery in WWE content.

WWE Network: estimated price between $12.99-$14.99

March 1, 2013

The WWE announced on Thursday the anticipated price point for its yet-to-be launched WWE Network.  The WWE has set the monthly charge between $12.99 and $14.99 although no debut date was announced.

The WWE has decided to pursue a premium subscription model similar to HBO and Showtime in which subscribers will pay a monthly charge for the network.

Via Thursday’s WWE Earnings Call (h/t Cageside Seats):

Based on our [WWE] market research, we estimate that a fully distributed domestic pay network could ultimately attract between 2 million and 4 million subscribers at a “steady state.” These subscriber estimates derive from a projected base of approximately 47 million WWE digital TV households in the US (including lapsed fans), and the proportion of which have an affinity for WWE content, although there is no guarantee that this affinity will translate into actual subscribers. These take-rates are based on a value proposition for the network that reflects inclusion of our pay-per-view events, except WrestleMania, as well as compelling original content. Under our preferred subscription model, while our pay-per-view events would still be offered on an á la carte basis as currently available, the research indicates that a WWE network offering would drive significant consumer interest (including households that currently do not purchase pay-per-view events). At a proposed price per month between $12.99 and $14.99, this would represent incremental revenue to WWE of between $125 million and $250 million and incremental EBITDA between $50 million and $150 million.

Payout Perspective:

The key words in the first sentence of the above snippet is “fully distributed domestic pay network.”  As we’ve written about in the past, distributors like DirecTV have pulled back on carrying certain networks (i.e., Pac 12 Network, Longhorn Network) due to the retransmission rights.  Yet, DTV did survey its subscribers on the possibility of subscribing.   If the WWE is unsuccessful in finding distribution, where does it leave it.  Are the projections ambitious?  With distributors seemingly tacking on additional charges monthly, can fans afford it?

The Pro Wrestling Post: WWE Main Event ratings, TUF gets slammed and King Mo’s debut

October 4, 2012

Welcome to another edition of the Wrestling Post.  This time we take a look at the WWE’s new network show, Slamming TUF ratings on RAW and the King Mo’s debut on TNA.

WWE Main Event rating

The WWE’s newest show on the ION Network, “WWE Main Event,” airing on Wednesdays from 8-9pm earned high ratings in its most important demos during its debut this week.  It scored the highest male audience in the last year on the network with the most Men 18-49 (422,000), Men 25-54 (444,000), and Men 2+ (876,000).

Payout Take:  The debut had exceptional ratings in part by having two of its top main eventers (CM Punk vs. Sheamus) star in the debut so it is likely that the ratings will decrease considering the fact it cannot have those type of events each year.  But, the ratings show growth for the network and another platform for the WWE brand.

WWE shows its smacking down TUF

On this past Monday Night’s RAW, the WWE ran a graphic which showed that Friday Night Smackdown on the SyFy Channel had 3 times as many viewers as TUF on FX.  The graphic was shown touting its social media supremacy.

Payout Take:  A valid statement that the UFC should take notice.  It shows that Friday night is not an excuse for ratings.  I find it interesting that each time the WWE takes a shot at the UFC, White does not respond back as he does to media reporters.  Perhaps he realizes who he’s dealing with and wants to stay in his own lane.

Lawal upset with Zuffa matching rights

King Mo Lawal made his debut on TNA Impact  Thursday.  As you recall, Lawal will be doing pro wrestling with TNA and then fight for the Bellator promotion.  Lawal signed with Bellator on May 10 will not participate with the organization until 2013.

MMA Junkie reported on Zuffa’s promotional agreement which feasibly could have retained the rights of Lawal after he was released.  Ironically, the issue occurred in Bellator as Tyson Nam threatened litigation against Bellator as he was being held out of its tournaments while having opportunities go by the wayside due to the fact that Bellator retained his rights under contract.  Dana White has been critical of Bellator for holding fighters like this.  However, the UFC/Strikeforce have similar clauses and Lawal and his agent question why it is in the Zuffa contracts.  Lawal’s agent had called White to see if the UFC/Strikeforce was still interested in retaining Lawal despite being cut.

Payout Take:  Bad feeling between White and Lawal remain.  Matching rights essentially is a right of first refusal which allows the company the opportunity to retain the person under contract usually by matching whatever offer is made to them.  According to MMA Junkie, most MMA organizations including the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator have them.  The UFC explained its need to retain the rights of those that leave the promotion but in the form of video rights.  Essentially, the UFC retains its rights to the images while the fighter was in the UFC.  But, it does not explain why it continues to have a matching rights clause for fighters when it does not plan to exercise it. The fact is with all of the injuries, the UFC may have to enforce this clause to retain some healthy fighters for its events.

As a postscript, Roy Nelson sent out a tweet to his followers to watch Lawal tonight on Spike.  The UFC probably is not happy about that tweet.

WWE celebrates 1000 Raw episodes

July 23, 2012

Bloomberg Businessweek featured Vince McMahon this week in lieu of Raw’s 1000th episode.  McMahon gave his secrets to managerial success in the article.

Some of McMahon’s gems in Bloomberg included:  Listen to your employees – and yourself, Treat every day like day one, Don’t cultivate fear, Clean your head and find your zone, Don’t settle for BS answers when interviewing job candidates and Complacency is your worst enemy,

USA Today also featured the company as it made it to 1000 episodes.  The article was an overview of the company and how its grown since the first Raw.

McMahon via USA Today:

“Many years ago, I had a chief financial officer say, ‘Vince, you make your money on pay-per-view, so why do all this other crap?’ Without all the other stuff we do, pay-per-view doesn’t work,” says the CEO, whose PPV revenues are up 30% after setting a record with 1.3 million buys for Wrestlemania 28 in April.

We’ll see if these numbers hold true when quarterly results are revealed next month.  We already know the PPV buys were lower than 1.3 million.

Payout Perspective:

Despite what some may think about fake wrestling, there’s something to be said about the longevity its had on cable television.  It’s somewhat amazing considering it was the early 90s when it first started and the company continues to reinvent itself.  I’m not sure if its an achievement that the WWE is the longest-running weekly episodic program in TV history with no reruns or its a testament to the tireless workers in the company.

The WWE had some good publicity leading into its episode 1000.  I think the Bloomberg article may be a little fluff considering the horror stories from some former WWE employees about working for the company.

WrestleMania goes to Met Life Stadium in 2013

February 18, 2012

The AP reports that WrestleMania will be held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The WWE confirmed the reports at a press conference this past Thursday.

Via WWE press release:

Governor Christie was joined by WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, New York Football Giants President and CEO John Mara, New York Jets Chairman and CEO Woody Johnson, NYC & Company CEO, George Fertitta and WWE’s Senior Vice President of Special Events John Saboor to make the announcement at a press conference held earlier today. WWE Superstars John Cena®, Triple H®, Sheamus®, Mark Henry®, Brie and Nikki Bella™ and special guest Dwayne “The Rock®” Johnson were also on hand at MetLife Stadium for the historic announcement.

The Rock announced that he would be at the NY/NJ WrestleMania although its not known whether he’d be performing or just participating in another way. His appearance can help with the early promotion for the event.

Payout Perspective:

Even before this year’s Wrestlemania in Miami, the WWE has announced WrestleMania XXIX. Its a little surprising considering its held past Wrestlemanias at Madison Square Garden. But, the stadium venue falls in line with the company’s annual biggest event. Its a good acquisition for Met Life Stadium and a dress rehearsal for the Super Bowl which it will host in 2014. Despite what some may think of professional wrestling, the competition to host a Wrestlemania is as tough as it is to get a Super Bowl.

The positive economic impact it has for a city is noticeable as many fans travel to the city of the Wrestlemania and its a significant boost in tourism. The WWE has taken advantage of the event by promoting a week full of events to draw its fans to the host city. According to the WWE press release, “WrestleMania has generated more than $200 million in cumulative economic impact for its past four host regions.”

Last year, WrestleMania was held in Atlanta where it was reported it made a positive $62 million economic impact in the region. Likely, Miami will eclipse this number and next year’s WM in New York/New Jersey should be even more considering the attraction of visiting New York as well as the other activities that one could do in the area.

WWE’s John Cena brand worth $106 million

January 11, 2012

The WWE claims that the brand for WWE pro wrestler John Cena is worth an estimated $106 million in 2010. The report comes out with the announcement of a huge sponsorship deal between Cena and Post Cereal’s Fruity Pebbles.

ESPN’s Michelle Steele reports that Cena was an $106 million brand in 2010. It was confirmed by wrestling site, PW Torch, which added, “In 2010, WWE reported $477.7 million in total revenue, which translates to Cena directly contributing to 22.2 percent of revenue two years ago.” The Torch indicated that its the number it tells corporate sponsors about Cena’s brand value.

Post Fruity Pebbles and the WWE sent out a joint press release (a portion of which is below) to announce the sponsorship deal (h/t Cageside Seats):

Post Fruity Pebbles and WWE Superstar John Cena are teaming up for a new partnership, which includes a collectable cereal box and an instant-win promotion awarding a VIP meet-and-greet with the talent.

Cena’s passion charity, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, for which he has granted over 250 wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions, and ‘be a STAR,’ the anti-bullying alliance co-founded by WWE and The Creative Coalition, are prominently displayed on newly-designed Fruity Pebbles cereal boxes featured nationwide January through March.

The on-pack instant win grand prize winners will each receive a VIP meet-and-greet with Cena, priority seating and transportation to a WWE live event, and an autographed “Rise Above Hate” T-shirt, in support of the ‘be a STAR’ anti-bullying message. First prize winners will receive an autographed version of the exclusive T-shirt. The second prize winners will receive the exclusive T-shirt. To enter, look inside the specially marked boxes featuring Cena for a special code to submit on

The sponsorship opportunity arose out of The Rock taunting (in perhaps an improv moment) Cena for his in ring wardrobe calling him “Fruity Pebbles.” And a sponsorship opportunity was born…

Payout Perspective:

The news of Cena’s brand value may seem outrageous to many MMA fans considering he is “sports entertainment,” but Cena attracts mainstream corporate sponsors. In addition to the Fruity Pebbles sponsorship, Cena has deals with Gillettte and Subway. He is the biggest star in the WWE but the biggest decision for the WWE creative team is whether to turn him into a bad guy this year. This seems trivial from an outsider’s perspective but it also means big business when you consider sponsors and for Cena personally as he gets a portion of the WWE’s business including  t-shirt sales and (likely) PPVs.

The Fruity Pebbles deals shows how opportunistic the WWE is with its product and its widespread popularity. The WWE probably was not looking for a deal with the cereal company prior to The Rock taunting Cena.

Will there ever be an MMA star with this much appeal and brand value? The UFC is still years away from having a star reach John Cena status. Maybe its unfair to compare but its still an interesting look at how much an individual can mean to a company.

Punk seconds Sonnen at UFC on Fox 2

January 5, 2012

MMA Fighting reportsWWE wrestler CM Punk will accompany Chael Sonnen to the Octagon at UFC on Fox 2. Punk, a Chicago native and MMA fan, appeared on an episode of the MMA Hour last year talking about his admiration of mixed martial arts.

Payout Perspective:

Is the Punk appearance good for the UFC? Does Punk’s appearance muddy the lines between the UFC and WWE? Is it a sign of things to come with the new UFC-Fox relationship?

In the end, the Punk walkout may not be a big deal unless Fox picks up on it pre-fight. From a practical standpoint, the pairing of Punk and Sonnen will be an attraction for Chicago. It also makes sense because Punk’s character is anti-hero and Sonnen (in a way) mirrors that persona. But for the casual viewer tuning in for the first time, will they associate MMA with professional wrestling? From the WWE’s standpoint, its good, free publicity for its sport. Punk is becoming one of the top two or three wrestlers in the company and the appearance on network television can only help. Definitely, those anti-pro wrestling people cannot like the fact that the UFC is crossing over (again) into the world of pro-wrestling.

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