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August 19, 2021

Nick Khan On WWE Possibly Being Sold, Vince McMahon Stepping Down

WWE President & Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan was on the latest episode of the Recode Media podcast with Peter Kafka. The two discussed WWE’s big media rights deals despite declining TV viewership across all of TV. Khan discussed that topic and explained why he doesn’t see advertisers moving away from TV anytime soon.

“I think you’ve seen it in primetime scripted television,” Khan stated. “When you and I were kids, and Archie Bunker did a 15 rating and made significant amount of money at that time for Norman Lear, and the studio and everybody behind it. Now you’re seeing shows in primetime that do a one in the demo, where significant dollars are paid for that.

“So 1/15 and again, the 15 million was the overall audience but even less than 1/15 of what the audience was 30 years ago, still commanding top dollar.  I’m not sure that you’ve seen a mechanism come across for advertisers yet that is as effective as television, and put the streaming component in there on the ad supported tiers, it feels like it’s going to be around at a high level for a long time.”

On the Q2 earnings call, Vince McMahon created headlines when he said that he did not see AEW as competition. Khan spoke on WWE’s competition and talked about where his focus lies.

“We had an earnings call a couple of weeks ago, and I referenced the recent Reed Hastings line about sleep is our competition.” Khan noted. “That’s the challenge for us is how do you get people to tune into our product, instead of just sitting there in their bed and texting all night, or watching Tik Tok for free, or doing nothing, or listening to a podcast.

“It’s always tricky. In essence, I personally as, an agent, as an executive, I never look at anybody as competition. I just focus on what I’m doing, but in the totality of circumstance, you have to look at everything as your competition, without a specific focus on any one entity. So we hope the NFL continues to get great ratings. We hope the NBA continues to great ratings. What does it have to do with us? We just have to make sure our product is great.”

Kafka later asked Khan whether he would takeover McMahon as WWE CEO. Khan gave his opinion on the topic of McMahon stepping down from WWE.

“I don’t think Vince has any plans, nor in my opinion, should he have stepping aside,” Khan said. “He’s 75, will be 76 in a couple of weeks. He’s healthy. He’s strong so maybe he goes another 50 years and you’ll be asking me this question in 49 years.”

WWE have continued to make different types of business deals, most recently with The Ringer and Spotify. Khan discussed the topic of whether or not WWE will sell in the next year.

“We’re open for business on anything and everything, and even some of the business plans that we’ve announced recently, I think, are different or unique to what the company has traditionally done,” Khan pointed out. “So we’re open for business. If somebody calls, we’ll listen, but we’re not active. We’re not out in the marketplace trying to change that structure.”


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