Tags: WWE | cable | TV | Barrios

WWE Expects New Cable-TV Deal by Early May, CFO Barrios Says

Friday, 07 Mar 2014 02:36 PM

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. may find a new cable-TV home for its popular “Raw” and “Smackdown” programs by the end of next month, Chief Financial Officer George Barrios said.

“We think we’ll be able to announce a new domestic rights partner at the end of April or beginning of May,” Barrios, who is also WWE’s chief strategy officer, said yesterday in a telephone interview. He said the company is in talks with “multiple parties,” while declining to name any.

Shares of Stamford, Connecticut-based WWE have gained more than 35 percent this week on prospects for a new online video network and a richer deal for the popular cable shows, according to Barrios. The company, controlled by founder and Chief Executive Officer Vince McMahon through Class B shares with added voting rights, isn’t in merger talks, he said.

WWE rose 6.5 percent to $31.74 at 1:56 p.m. in New York. Shares of the company have more than tripled in the past 12 months, and are at record levels.

The WWE Network, a digital channel that costs $9.99 a month, has been downloaded 10 million times, he said.

“Those are significant economics,” Barrios said. “Investors are looking at those and figuring out how they will contribute.”

Non-Exclusive

An exclusive negotiating period with Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal for cable rights ended last month. WWE’s shows run on NBCUniversal’s USA and SyFy networks.

“Raw” and “Smackdown” routinely rate among the most-watched shows on cable television each week, with “Raw” usually in the top 10 behind programs such as “The Walking Dead,” “Duck Dynasty” and “Pawn Stars,” according to Nielsen data.

“When you boil down the numbers we have larger live, same-day viewers than anything on cable,” Barrios said. “We have a passionate fan base that follows us wherever we are.”

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World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. may find a new cable-TV home for its popular "Raw" and "Smackdown" programs by the end of next month, Chief Financial Officer George Barrios said.
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2014-36-07
Friday, 07 Mar 2014 02:36 PM
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