Thursday, January 30, 2014

WWE TV Rights Negotiations Continue!

Late last night news broke that WWE had signed a new 5-year television deal to continue their relationship with the "UK pay TV giant" BSkyB.

Recent WWE TV Rights Coverage:

Some of the important nuggets of information to consider:
  1. As Dave Meltzer noted in his report, "timing is everything".  Right now Live Sports are receiving record renewal rates, especially with combined with long term exclusivity.  Additionally, a new competitor in the marketplace (BT Sports) likely drove up the bidding before WWE renewed with their longtime partner.
  2. This represents a significant increase for WWE. In fact, the Hollywood Report story suggested that, "value is believed to be about three times that of the previous five-year agreement".  That's a really key figure because that's in the range of what Vince McMahon has been promising shareholders during the monthly conference calls.
  3. Unlike the previous deal (signed in late 2009 just months before it started in January 2010), this renewal moved all 12 PPVs to Sky Box Office (essentially to a pay-per-view channel akin to the setup in the US).  Previously, some PPVs aired as "special events" for free on Sky.  It's believed that this move would pave the way for the subscription over-the-top WWE Network to be available in the UK with the monthly PPV programming being broadcast there.
This brings up the question of what will WWE be doing with the current domestic negotiations with NBCUniversal.  (I recommend re-reading some the previous coverage on this blog with last month's "Can we predict WWE TV Rights Fees for 2015?")

The latest rumor I've heard is that WWE is looking for about "$280M" in their negotiations (2/3/14 Wrestling Observer).  What isn't clear is the length of the deal or how they'd want to structure that money.  However, I would submit the following graph:

Today, Domestic TV Rights are clipping around at about 10% growth year-over-year.  (2013 is estimated based on 3 quarters of information and 2014 is completely projected.)  Keep in mind that Total Divas! on E!  has been a lucrative program and it's questionable whether that project would continue indefinitely. 

Assuming a similar deal to BSkyB at 5 years (which is plausible), if WWE wanted to hit $280M by the end of the contract (which begins in the end of 2014), that would represent about a 19% growth year-over-year (twice as high).  If they wanted to average $280M over the five years, that would average about 31% growth year-over-year.  While those are hefty numbers, considering the high values being thrown for other sports packages, it's possible they'd go for it.  It would lock up WWE before the exclusive negotiation period and it would continue the relationship that WWE has with the company.  And it's in the range of the change (at least in terms of year-over-year growth) that would be in line with what happened in the BSkyB negotiation -- triple where they are today.

-Chris Harrington (@mookieghana)

Addendum: 1/31/2014

We do know from WWE's annual reports:

WWE revenue details
Jan-Dec 2012: $34,001,000 (UK); total Europe/Middle East/Africa: $70,720,000; int'l TV rights = $50.6M; int'l Live Events = $31.6M
Jan-Dec 2011: $33,178,000 (UK); total Europe/Middle East/Africa: $76,165,000; int'l TV rights = $51.2M; int'l Live Events = $39.8M
Jan-Dec 2010: $33,932,000 (UK); total Europe/Middle East/Africa: $80,263,000; int'l TV rights = $45.4M; int'l Live Events = $39.9M
Jan-Dec 2009: $36,516,000 (UK); total Europe/Middle East/Africa: $82,508,000; int'l TV rights = $39.1M; int'l Live Events = $41.0M
Jan-Dec 2008: $47,301,000 (UK); int'l TV rights = $37.2M; int'l Live Events = $41.7M
Jan-Dec 2007: $45,068,000 (UK); int'l TV rights = $32.8M; int'l Live Events = $37.4M
(8 month transition period) May-Dec 2006: $21,812,000 (UK); int'l TV rights = $20.7M; int'l Live Events = $15.7M
May 05-Apr 06: $34,788,000 (UK); int'l TV rights = $28.5M; int'l Live Events = $28.3M

For the purposes of these numbers, int'l is basically "not US or Canada or PR" since they count that with "North America" but they do break out Mexico as int'l (as part of Latin America). They've begun splitting out UK revenues since it's their "largest international market".

I tried to see if I could figure out what UK TV Rights fees were, but without spending more time drilling into counting tours and whatnot, I wasn't confident in what I could extract from the numbers above.
My take on BSkyB was that putting all the PPVs on Sky Box Office meant that WWE Network could show them because that sounds like a similar arrangement to what WWE does in the US, but perhaps I'm misunderstanding that. If nothing else, it seems like surprising that Sky would triple their rates (Hollywood reporter) without getting PPV exclusivity, but at this phase I think WWE is playing from a position of strength. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this