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Showing posts with label Nick Khan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nick Khan. Show all posts

January 10, 2023

WWE Board of Directors unanimously elected Vince McMahon Executive Chairman of the Board; Stephanie McMahon Resigns

WWE today announced that its Board of Directors unanimously elected Vince McMahon Executive Chairman of the Board.

Stephanie McMahon has resigned from her roles as Chairwoman and Co-CEO.

Nick Khan will serve as WWE CEO.

Vince McMahon:

“First, I’d like to express my full support for Stephanie’s personal decision. I’ll forever be grateful that she offered to step in during my absence and I’m truly proud of the job she did co-leading WWE. Stephanie has always been the ultimate ambassador for our company, and her decades of contributions have left an immeasurable impact on our brand.

“I’m proud to announce that Nick Khan will serve as WWE CEO. Nick’s business acumen and mastery of the media industry have helped catapult our business to record revenue and profitability. Together, we look forward to working with the Board at this critical moment in time to review our strategic alternatives and maximize value for all WWE shareholders.”

Stephanie McMahon:

“I cannot put into words how proud I am to have helped lead what I consider to be the greatest company in the world and I am confident WWE is in the perfect position to continue to provide unparalleled creative content and drive maximum value for shareholders.”

Nick Khan:

“Stephanie McMahon is a terrific executive and an even better person. It has been an honor to serve as Co-CEO with her. She will only continue to succeed.

“I’m grateful to Vince McMahon and our Board of Directors for their ongoing support. I look forward to continuing to work closely with them and my WWE colleagues to ensure our company may thrive as the premiere powerhouse in sports entertainment for years to come.”

January 6, 2023

WWE is providing the following update regarding the composition of its Board of Directors and the exploration of strategic alternatives

Today, we announce that the founder of WWE, Vince McMahon, will be returning to the Board,” said Chairwoman & Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon, Co-CEO Nick Khan and Chief Content Officer Paul Levesque. “We also welcome back Michelle Wilson and George Barrios to our Board of Directors. Together, we look forward to exploring all strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value.”

As Vince McMahon stated yesterday, “WWE has an exceptional management team in place, and I do not intend for my return to have any impact on their roles, duties, or responsibilities."

In connection with the change in the composition of the Board of Directors and in cooperation with Vince McMahon as majority shareholder, the Company intends to undertake a review of its strategic alternatives with the goal being to maximize value for all WWE shareholders. There is no assurance that this process will result in a transaction.

Vince McMahon, in his capacity as controlling shareholder of the Company, has removed JoEllen Lyons Dillon, Jeffrey R. Speed and Alan M. Wexler from the Board. Vince McMahon, George Barrios and Michelle Wilson have been added to the Board to fill the resulting vacancies.

The Board currently consists of:

Vince McMahon

Stephanie McMahon

Nick Khan

Paul Levesque

Steve Koonin

Michelle McKenna

Steve Pamon

George Barrios

Michelle Wilson

Ignace Lahoud and Man Jit Singh have resigned from the Board, effective today.

January 5, 2023

Vince McMahon Trying To Get Back Into WWE For Media RIghts Negotiations

According to Lauren Thomas of the Wall Street Journal, Vince McMahon is planning to return to WWE in order to pursue a sale of the business. McMahon has reportedly told the company that he is electing himself and former co-presidents and directors, Michelle Wilson and George Barrios, to the board.

This move will require three current directors to vacate their positions.

Previous attempts for McMahon to be reinstated have been rebuffed by the board and he will need board approval if he assumes the role as executive chairman, which he reportedly expects to do.

McMahon still has majority voting power due to his ownership of WWE Class B stock.

The report goes on to state the board responded last month in a letter to Mr. McMahon that it was prepared to initiate a review process and would welcome working with him on it. It was reportedly unanimously agreed that Mr. McMahon’s return to the business wouldn’t be in shareholders’ best interest.

McMahon has reportedly communicated to the board that unless he has direct involvement as executive chairman from the outset of a strategic review, he won’t support or approve any media-rights deal or sale.

WWE media rights for WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown are reportedly set to be negotiated in the near future as the contracts for both shows end in 2024.

Vince McMahon sent out the following press release:

GREENWICH, Conn., Jan. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Vince McMahon, the founder and controlling shareholder of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. ("WWE" or the "Company") (NYSE: WWE), announced today that he has taken necessary actions to position the Company to capitalize on a unique opportunity to maximize long-term value for all WWE shareholders. The actions, communicated to WWE's Board of Directors today via written consent, include the election to the Board of Mr. McMahon, as well as Michelle Wilson and George Barrios – former WWE Co-Presidents and Board members, and currently the Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Isos Capital Management – and the requisite removal from the Board of three directors. Mr. McMahon expects to assume the role of Executive Chairman of the Board.

Mr. McMahon's new role will enable unified decision making through the Company's upcoming media rights negotiations and a parallel full review of the Company's strategic alternatives, which Mr. McMahon believes is the right course of action and in the best interests of WWE and WWE shareholders amidst the current dynamics in the media and entertainment industry. As Mr. McMahon has communicated to the Board, he believes there is a narrow window of opportunity to create significant value for all shareholders and that to do so, the strategic alternatives review must occur in tandem with the media rights negotiations. He also expressed to the Board that he believes these two initiatives require Mr. McMahon's direct participation, leadership, and support as controlling shareholder.

"WWE is entering a critical juncture in its history with the upcoming media rights negotiations coinciding with increased industry-wide demand for quality content and live events and with more companies seeking to own the intellectual property on their platforms," said Mr. McMahon. "The only way for WWE to fully capitalize on this opportunity is for me to return as Executive Chairman and support the management team in the negotiations for our media rights and to combine that with a review of strategic alternatives. My return will allow WWE, as well as any transaction counterparties, to engage in these processes knowing they will have the support of the controlling shareholder."

Prior to delivering written consent, Mr. McMahon sent two separate letters to the Board in late December in which he expressed the urgency of his return to the Company as Executive Chairman and his desire to work collaboratively with the Board and management team. Following conversations with representatives of the Company both before and after Mr. McMahon's most recent letter on December 31, Mr. McMahon determined, consistent with his rights as controlling shareholder, that the steps announced today are necessary to maximize value for all WWE shareholders.

In conjunction with the changes to WWE's Board, Mr. McMahon's written consent also includes certain amendments to the Company's bylaws to ensure that WWE's corporate governance continues to properly enable and support shareholder rights. These changes will be detailed in a Schedule 13D amendment to be filed by Mr. McMahon and a Form 8-K to be filed by the Company in the coming days.

bylaws to ensure that WWE's corporate governance continues to properly enable and support shareholder rights. These changes will be detailed in a Schedule 13D amendment to be filed by Mr. McMahon and a Form 8-K to be filed by the Company in the coming days.

No assurances can be given regarding the outcome or timing of the review process. Mr. McMahon does not intend to comment further until the process has concluded or Mr. McMahon has otherwise determined that further disclosure is appropriate or required.

McMahon has stated that he remains willing to continue working to complete any reimbursement for reasonable expenses related to the investigation, to the extent they aren’t covered by insurance.

McMahon reportedly also declined the offer to not return to the company.

Source: fightful.com

December 20, 2022

Vince McMahon’s Planned WWE Comeback Is Predictable But Not Feasible

December 6, 2022

Axios Highlights WWE Business Success Following Vince McMahon's Exit

For most companies, the departure of a CEO would usually result in a wave of uncertainty from investors, and can often even result in the stock price tanking. However, that simply hasn't been the case for WWE in 2022. The company has performed exceedingly well in the aftermath of longtime CEO Vince McMahon's departure over the summer, and news website Axios has now declared WWE "2022's media winner."

Nearly every major publicly traded entertainment company has seen its stock plummet this year, except World Wrestling Entertainment.

The company now has a market capitalization of nearly $6 billion, up from a little under $4 billion when it signed a landmark five-year streaming distribution deal with Peacock in 2021.

Why it matters: Investors are bullish on WWE as an acquisition target, especially in light of a hush money scandal that led to the retirement of the company's longtime leader and controlling shareholder Vince McMahon in July.

Details: WWE, along with other independent sports entertainment companies, could be hot targets for streaming companies looking to bolster subscriber numbers and global followings.

While WWE's exclusive U.S. streaming rights deal with Peacock doesn't expire until 2026, its two biggest live TV deals with Fox and Comcast are set to lapse in 2024.

Between the lines: Earlier this month, WWE ended its monthslong investigation into alleged misconduct by McMahon, concluding that he made nearly $20 million of previously undisclosed payments, most of which went toward settling sexual misconduct claims.

But the company has had a relatively smooth leadership transition in the wake of the scandal, keeping investors optimistic about its long-term growth strategy.
The return of live events following COVID-era lockdowns this year has been a boon for WWE.

The bottom line: Much of WWE's revenue is tied to long-term media contracts and big events, which has helped the company dodge much of the advertising-driven headwinds plaguing other media firms.

November 2, 2022

WWE’s Vince McMahon Investigation Ended Up Costing $19.4M In Expenses

The WWE, led by co-CEOs Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan, handily beat Wall Street expectations on revenue in its third quarter, delivering net revenue of $304.6 million, and operating income of $58.9 million.

The bump in revenue was “primarily due an increase in both domestic and international media rights fees related to the Company’s flagship programs, Raw and SmackDown,” the company said.

Indeed, the majority of the revenue, some $233 million, came from media rights, with live events accounting for $35.2 million, and consumer products $36.4 million.

But while many entertainment companies are beginning to lower expectations for the rest of the year amid an uncertain economic environment, the WWE appears bullish on its prospects, telling investors that it now expects full year 2022 Adjusted OIBDA to be at the “upper end” of its $370 million – $385 million range from just a few months ago, including fourth quarter 2022 Adjusted OIBDA of $83 million – $90 million.

In its earnings report, the WWE also provided an update into the board investigation into former CEO Vince McMahon. McMahon retired amid the probe back in July, but he remains the company’s controlling shareholder.

“The Special Committee investigation is now complete and the Special Committee has been disbanded,” the company said in the earnings report. “Management is working with the Board to implement the recommendations of the Special Committee related to the investigation.”

The company says it spent $17.7 million on costs associated with the investigation in Q3, and $19.4M so far this year. 

September 2, 2022

WWE promotes Levesque and Riddick, boosts pay for post-Vince McMahon leaders

WWE is making further tweaks to its leadership group in the wake of former chief Vince McMahon's exit.

In an SEC filing, the company notes that following McMahon's resignation of all company positions on July 22, his roles have been spread among four executives: Chairwoman/co-CEO Stephanie McMahon;  Co-CEO Nick Khan; Chief Financial Officer/Chief Administrative Officer Frank Riddick III; and Chief Content Officer Paul Levesque.

In further changes, Friday the company elevated Riddick to president of the company (though he'll retain his role as chief financial officer).

WWE also decided to enhance compensation of the four due to the additional duties. Base salaries are increasing: Stephanie McMahon to $1.35M from $730,000; Khan to $1.35M from $1.2M; Riddik to $950,000 from $850,000; and Levesque to $900,000 from $730,000.

Meanwhile, Stephanie McMahon and Levesque will continue to receive guaranteed minimums under their booking agreements, of $750,000 and $1M respectively.

The foursome also saw expectations set for annual target bonuses, future annual equity grants, and special equity grants. They also received severance protection in the event of a change in control of WWE.

July 29, 2022

Insight Into The Dynamic Of Stephanie McMahon And Nick Khan As WWE Co-CEOs

Following Vince McMahon’s decision to retire one week ago amid allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity, Stephanie McMahon, his daughter, has taken up the reins as chairwoman moving forward. In addition, Stephanie will also work side-by-side with Nick Khan — who became an executive within the company in August 2020 — as co-CEOs. Although their tenure sharing the executive position has just begun, the lid has been lifted on the duo’s dynamic behind the scenes.

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has disclosed that Khan will deal with the business side of the company, while McMahon will be the public face of WWE and will run the wrestling side of business with her husband, Paul Levesque (fka Triple H). Levesque, who will also serve the company as EVP of Talent Relations, assumed the role of head of creative for the entire organization’s on-screen product earlier this week in the aftermath of his father-in-law’s exit. The Observer noted that, for many years, the belief was that Stephanie and Levesque were the heirs to the throne, and despite recent events making it seem unlikely, that now seems to have come to unexpected fruition, especially as regards to the wrestling side of things.

Additionally, in regard to Stephanie and Khan’s roles as co-CEOs, it was said from people who work with top executives in a similar arrangement that, more often than not, things don’t tend to work out. Disagreements are reportedly common, as neither person will have complete power to implement their own vision. Nevertheless, a WWE source is encouraged by the news of the pair sharing the key position.

I actually believe this pairing is necessary,” a WWE source told the Wrestling Observer. “Nick is a revenue driver. And he’s been involved in things that are not his specialty. What he’s good at, he’s great at. Steph is the promoter. The old school promoter with the new lexicon in media about analytics and branding. If Steph sticks to being a promoter, managing the relationships for the company, and Nick sticks to revenue, they’re a formidable team.”

Triple H Comments On Leading WWE Creative

During a media scrum in Nashville as part of WWE SummerSlam week, Triple H was asked by Nick Hausman of Wrestling INC how his vision will change from that of Vince's.

"You gotta watch the show. You gotta watch the show," he said with a laugh.

He continued, providing a little more color on the situation by saying, "This is the longest-running stuff on TV, we say it all the time. Raw, SmackDown, SummerSlam, everything we're doing. There are a massive pair of shoes to fill that I'm trying in some way to step into, but I do not dream, for one second, that I can fill those shoes by myself. It's going to take a lot of us. It's going to take a team. It's going to take everybody here to fill those shoes and continue on, but we will. The intent is to continue the legacy of what has been going on, that made me fall in love with this business that he created and to take it to new levels. To take it to beyond where it is now. The only way we're going to do that is as a team. That's with Steph, Nick Khan, myself, Kevin Dunn, everybody that is here. All this talent. The great, hardest working talent in the world. I have no doubt in my mind that with this team, we can do it. Not an inkling of doubt. It's just a lot of hard work and we're all going to grind. We have the greatest fans in the world and we're going to make sure they get everything they want out of this product and then some."

With Vince retiring, Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan were named Co-CEOs of the company.

Later during the scrum, Triple H was asked by Jon Alba of AdFreeShows about Paul Heyman, who is helping scout talent during the WWE tryouts, possibly being involved in creative and development aspects going forward

"I want ideas from everybody. I want thoughts from everybody. To me, this inclusive. That goes for the talent. When I say this is going to take all of us, it's going to take all of us. I want that. Paul is one of the best promos in the history of this business. Who better? When I asked him to be part of this, he was thrilled. We both joke about the fountain of youth at these things. Who better to come here to talk about that skill? Paul has the gift of gab, always has. Who better to come here and motivate these kids?" said Triple H, before also mentioning Big E and Bianca Belair as people who have helped out with the tryouts.

source: fightful.com

July 25, 2022

WWE and Board of Directors Announce New Co-CEOs Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan; Paul Levesque to Assume Control of Creative

WWE and its Board of Directors today announced the appointment of Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan as co-Chief Executive Officers. Ms. McMahon has also been appointed Chairwoman of the Board, and Mr. Khan will continue to serve as a member of the Board. These appointments follow Vince McMahon’s retirement announcement on Friday, July 22.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to lead WWE together with our unmatched management team," said Ms. McMahon and Mr. Khan. "We recognize this is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility, and we look forward to serving the WWE Universe." 

Additionally, WWE executive Paul Levesque will assume all responsibilities related to WWE’s creative, in addition to his regular duties.

July 22, 2022

Vince McMahon Retires

Vince McMahon today released the following statement:

“As I approach 77 years old, I feel it’s time for me to retire as Chairman and CEO of WWE. Throughout the years, it’s been a privilege to help WWE bring you joy, inspire you, thrill you, surprise you, and always entertain you. I would like to thank my family for mightily contributing to our success, and I would also like to thank all of our past and present Superstars and employees for their dedication and passion for our brand. Most importantly, I would like to thank our fans for allowing us into your homes every week and being your choice of entertainment. I hold the deepest appreciation and admiration for our generations of fans all over the world who have liked, currently like, and sometimes even love our form of Sports Entertainment.

“Our global audience can take comfort in knowing WWE will continue to entertain you with the same fervor, dedication, and passion as always. I am extremely confident in the continued success of WWE, and I leave our company in the capable hands of an extraordinary group of Superstars, employees, and executives – in particular, both Chairwoman and Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon and Co-CEO Nick Khan. As the majority shareholder, I will continue to support WWE in any way I can. My personal thanks to our community and business partners, shareholders, and Board of Directors for their guidance and support through the years. Then. Now. Forever. Together.”

January 25, 2022

Nick Khan Confirms WWE Has Taken Calls About A Potential Sale, Reason For Internal Changes

Nick Khan, Stephanie McMahon, Eli Manning and Vince McMahon at March of Dimes event.

WWE has taken calls from other companies looking to purchase the sports entertainment heavyweight, but they are not looking to sell.

WWE President & Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan, pictured above with WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, and NFL star Eli Manning at a March of Dimes Sports Luncheon back in November, recently spoke with Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand and revealed the interest from other companies.

Khan confirmed that WWE has taken some inbound calls from other companies looking to buy, but he stressed that WWE is not in active talks trying to sell the company, and they are not actively looking to sell.

Khan also commented on how Vince sees the company, and WWE bringing him on a year and a half ago.

“If it once was a mom-and-pop shop, Vince certainly didn’t believe it was anymore,” Khan said. “Part of what I believe he was looking for in bringing in someone from the outside was to make sure the community at large didn’t treat it that way. We believe we’re a global content company.”

It was noted how Khan didn’t just target the broader sports and entertainment community with this push as he felt that he needed to change internal attitudes as well. While working for CAA Sports agency, Khan is the one who represented WWE when they sold their media rights to FOX and NBCUniversal. The FOX deal is worth $1 billion over 5 years, while the NBC deal is worth around $1.3 billion over 5 years.

Khan noted that during those 2018 negotiations, he was struck by the attitude of some WWE staffers, most of whom were not steeped in the intricacies of media. He said some of them acted as though they were fortunate just to have a seat at the table, and were content to negotiate with executives far down the chain of command.

Khan said he felt like that business attitude, as well as an overall knowledge of the media marketplace, needed to change in WWE.

“Vince believed that WWE was at a place where it had earned a seat at the adult table, but others in the company didn’t see it that way,” Khan said.

It’s no secret that WWE has undergone many internal changes since hiring Khan in August 2020. He and Vince have overseen an almost complete turnover of WWE’s media division, and the types of media deals WWE cuts have changed, as have the executives who negotiate those deals.

Khan went on a hiring spree soon after joining WWE as his goal was to bring in executives who shared Vince’s vision about the size and influence of WWE.

“For the company to be treated the way that Vince, Stephanie, [WWE executive] Kevin Dunn and myself and others believed it should be treated in the community, you needed executives who reflected that, who had range, who could get people on the phone and who could be taken seriously by their peers,” Khan said.

The corporate changes led to a series of moves that show a changing media strategy in WWE, which includes the new streaming strategy that saw the company license the WWE Network to Peacock as part of a 5 year, $1 billion deal. WWE executives see the Peacock deal as a template for similar international streaming deals.

WWE also decided to partner with outside production houses on programming featuring some of its biggest Superstars. Khan said WWE wants to be in business with everyone who is a real player.

“We want to be in business with everybody who is a real player in this business,” Khan said. “Understanding the business — where it’s at and where it’s heading — is a key part to all of this.”

Regarding Saturday’s WWE Royal Rumble event from The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Khan noted that ticket sales are tracking at an all-time high for The Rumble. One of WWE’s newer strategies is to stage events on different nights of the week, which is why SummerSlam and The Rumble were moved to Saturdays, among others. WWE credited the SummerSlam night change with helping the event post the largest gate in its history.

Nick Khan: WWE Wants To Work With ‘Real’ Players In The Media Industry

WWE President and Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan wants to do what’s best for business.

In an interview with John Ourand of SBJ, Khan shared the company’s mindset regarding its business deals by noting that WWE wants to work with those who can be considered a “real player” in media.

“In what is now a cluttered OTT subscriber marketplace, it only made sense to partner with somebody,” said Khan. “We want to be in business with everybody who is a real player in this business. Understanding the business — where it’s at and where it’s heading — is a key part to all of this.”

The WWE President also looked back on his move to the company in 2020. Khan has been criticized for being an outsider, in terms of his connection to the wrestling industry, but he noted that Vince McMahon and other executives wanted to bring someone who would be “taken seriously” in the media marketplace.

“Part of what I believe he was looking for in bringing in someone from the outside was to make sure the community at large didn’t treat it that way,” said Khan. “We believe we’re a global content company. Vince believed that WWE was at a place where it had earned a seat at the adult table, but others in the company didn’t see it that way. For the company to be treated the way that Vince, Stephanie (McMahon), [WWE executive] Kevin Dunn and myself and others believed it should be treated in the community, you needed executives who reflected that, who had range, who could get people on the phone and who could be taken seriously by their peers.”

Throughout Khan’s time with the company, WWE has continued to bring in record profits and reach new heights with its Peacock deal, among other moves, though the company has also come under fire for its cost-cutting maneuvers. Most notably, the promotion has cut numerous superstars and employees, even after the height of the initial COVID-19 surge had passed.

December 13, 2021

Top WWE Executives Make “Most Influential People In Sports Business” List

Three of WWE’s top executives are featured on Sports Business Journal’s 2021 Most Influential People in Sports Business list.

WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, WWE President & CRO Nick Khan, and WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon are included on the list under the “Most Influential: Media Influencers” category.

SBJ pointed how there is a clear repositioning of WWE to a media business under Khan. They touted two big projects in the works – Netflix’s docuseries on Vince, and the Blumhouse-developed “The United States of America Vs. Vince McMahon” TV series. SBJ wrote the following on The McMahons and Khan making the list together:

“There is clearly a repositioning of the WWE to a media business under Khan, who joined the company from CAA Sports in August 2020, especially with the move to Peacock as part of a five-year deal reported to be more than $1 billion. High-profile projects include a multipart Netflix docuseries on Vince McMahon’s life and a deal with Blumhouse Television on a scripted series about the WWE in the 1990s.”

SBJ’s “Most Influential: Media Influencers” list for 2021 also included executives from ESPN, NBC Sports Group, Amazon, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, and WarnerMedia News & Sports/Turner Sports.

The listing on WarnerMedia News & Sports Chairman Jeff Zucker and Turner Sports President Lenny Daniels did not mention AEW, but did tout how Turner added NHL hockey and Premiere League soccer to the line-up, noting how Zucker and Daniels have become more aggressive in picking up sports rights. It was also noted that Warner/Turner now have one of the highest quality portfolios in all of sports media.

August 22, 2021

Nick Khan Comments On Recent Releases

“There’s a collective of us, keep in mind at WWE their is one boss, that’s Vince as we all know. Between Bruce Prichard who oversees the entire creative process, Kevin Dunn, who oversees all of our production, Stephanie McMahon, Paul Levesque are all involved in these decisions, with ultimately Vince making the final decision on everything”

“I don’t know if there is one explanation for it, ultimately what’s looked at, ‘Is this person for us going move to the needle now or in the imminent future’. ‘We signed a dozen new talent, we’re always looking for what’s next. We live in the present, we live in the future, 7 don’t live in the past”

WWE'S Nick Khan Promises Imminent NXT Revamp

WWE President and Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan says that a "revamp" of NXT is underway and that changes to the product will be seen within a couple of weeks. 

In an interview with Ariel Helwani for BT Sport, Khan said that Triple H is leading the changes. 

"We're doing a complete revamp on NXT, led by Triple H, Paul Levesque, who is really one of the architects of the original NXT," said Khan. 

"In terms of an NXT rebrand, look for it in the next couple of weeks. It's gonna have a whole new look, it's gonna have a whole new feel."

Khan also indicated a change in philosophy when it comes to recruiting talent for NXT. 

"What we believe, because of lot of the 'indie wrestlers' if you will have come through our system and are in our system with SmackDown and Raw now, we don't want to just keep doing that same thing," said Khan.  "We want to look elsewhere for great young talent."

Khan also spoke of a more direct kind of developmental system, comparing it to high school and college football talent recruiting. 

"So what we found, it's part of why we did the tryout [Las Vegas tryout on Friday], what we want to make sure is it's easy for folks who want to be WWE superstars figuring out how to be WWE superstars," said Khan. 

"If you think of the life of an elevated athlete throughout their career, the opportunity to go play somewhere has always been easy, being able to play somewhere is not... If you're an amazing high school football player, colleges come after you, you get recruited, you go into their system, and either you make it or you don't make it. All that it takes to get there? Difficult. The system? Not difficult," said Khan. 

"We want our system to be an easy system where people who want to be superstars know how to get to us and we can get to them."

Nick Khan On WWE Sale Rumors, 'We’re Not Trying To Sell It'

During a recent interview with the Recode Media podcast, the WWE President Nick Khan said WWE is "open for business on anything and everything" when he was asked if WWE is looking to put itself up for sale.

His comments during that interview had people speculating that the company would be prepared to sell, especially given the amount of WWE in the last year which some say is so the company can maximize its selling potential.

In an interview with Ariel Helwani promoting SummerSlam weekend, Khan clarified his comments noting the company isn't in talks about a potential sale.

"When I say we’re ‘open for business’ that means if someone credible calls on anything—NFT, trading cards, international rates—we take the call. We’re inherently sales people, meaning we’re not like, ‘We don’t want to talk to this company because we think they’re…’ If you call and you want to pitch us something and you’re credible, we’re going to hear the pitch. We’re an entrepreneurial company that Vince and others built over the last 35 years or so, and we always want to stay fresh and entrepreneurial. 

"In our minds, when I say open for business, if somebody calls, credible, asking ‘are you for sale?’ it’s ‘what’s your offer, what are you thinking?’ We’re not trying to sell it, that’s not our intent. There are no internal meetings about selling this company. The internal meetings are about growing it and the ability that we think we collectively have to tremendously grow what the value of the company is now."

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.”

October 29, 2020

Vince McMahon And WWE Executives Talk COVID-19, WWE NXT And Triple H, Saudi Arabia, More

WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, Chief Financial Officer Kristina Salen, and SVP Financial Planning & Investor Relations Michael Weitz are hosting a Third Quarter 2020 Earnings call today from WWE headquarters in Stamford, CT. You can check out coverage of this evening's press release at this link. Below are highlights from the call: Weitz opens the call and welcomes everyone, going over the usual intro. Vince took over and said he's never felt as confident as he does right now with the upper management team WWE has.

 It's extraordinary what the team has done for the business. He touted the new energy and vibrancy, and optimism. In regards to where they can go in the future, this is a fun and exciting place to be. He praised new WWE President & Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan for what he's done to help the company, and revealed that Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon has taken on more responsibilities, praising her. Vince said he really feels great about the new WWE management team. Vince didn't get into the numbers, but says he just wanted to share how he feels about the current management team. He hands it over to Khan. Khan talks about his background since he's fairly new to the company. He mentions being an usher at WrestleMania 9 in Las Vegas. Khan says they are working to develop new WWE Studios content, including Total Bellas season 6 to premiere in November, and A&E's "Quest for Lost WWE Treasures" that will be hosted by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. This show will take viewers on the ultimate hunt to find some of WWE's most iconic lost memorabilia. This furthers the relationship with A&E. He mentions A&E has also ordered more episodes of the "Biography" documentaries.

Khan then announces that they have reached a groundbreaking new deal with Netflix, selling them a multi-part documentary on the life of Vince McMahon. This is one of the highest-budgeted documentaries in Netflix history. Bill Simmons will executive produce. Chris Smith, who directed Netflix's Fyre Fest documentary, will produce the Vince project, along with WWE Studios. Khan noted that they are still working on the alternate version of WWE Network but are unable to say when that will be ready. WWE Network subscriptions are up during the pandemic. Khan announces a 2021 event with Sony in India that will primarily feature Indian talent. It will air on Sony in India and will also be distributed here in the United States. Khan then introduces Stephanie. 

She talks about her role with the company and how everything they do is under the WWE Universe. She touts how WrestleMania 36 went from being sold out at Raymond James Stadium, to the "new normal" on a closed-set at the WWE Performance Center. Along with RAW and SmackDown, they experimented with new ways on the closed set but that wasn't good enough so they launched WWE ThunderDome, which made their shows feel alive again. They saw an increase in RAW and SmackDown ratings with the ThunderDome. She touts how they transformed the Performance Center arena into the Capitol Wrestling Center, the return to WWE NXT UK with BT Sports Studios in London. She mentioned how the production teams from Orlando, Stamford and London are working together, and praised the efforts. She also touted more than 50 billion video views on YouTube, and WWE changing their digital strategy, which led to more engagement. Stephanie also talked about how the company has been doing WWE Community virtual visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, partnering with UNICEF for their kids program and others. WWE's advertising campaigns and sponsor partnerships are outpacing industry standards and recent trends. Stephanie also touted recent celebrity involvement and how top brands continue to partner with WWE during the pandemic. She said WWE remains bullish, for 2021 and beyond, when it comes to growth, expansion, partnerships and everything else. New Chief Financial Officer Kristina Salen took over next and went over numbers from today's press release. WWE is evaluating their strategies for 2021 but the pandemic leaves a lot of uncertainty. She said RAW and SmackDown viewership improved from July - September, despite major sports competition. She said WWE can't say when ticketed live events will return at this point, but their intention is to return to live events as quickly and safety as possible. WWE anticipates Q4 2020 will have lower revenues than the same period in 2019. Part of the blame goes to the fact that they have no Saudi Arabia event in the quarter like they did in Q4 2019. WWE did not buy back any stock in Q3 under the buyback program, but they may in the future. It's now time for the Q&A portion of the call. They were asked about ratings and if there are any firm plans to improve them, and if ratings staying where they are will hurt negotiations for rights fees when they come back around. Vince said they have more fans than they've ever had but total audience is much bigger than just the TV audience. You can't just "hang your hat" on TV viewership being down. Vince mentioned how WWE is never off the air. You might say viewership is down but the overall viewership and engagement needs to be considered. WWE is doing everything they can to improve. The ThunderDome brought some fans back, but they want better execution of the creative, and better writing overall. Khan said TV in general has lost viewers but WWE viewership has not, overall. Consumption of WWE content is significantly up. WWE remains confident that TV rights fees will also go up. He touted how WWE topped the NHL Stanley Cup viewership in the key demographic, and they also did well against the Los Angeles Lakers playing at the end of the NBA season. They were asked about the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) TV rights and Vince said they are still negotiating them, and are still in contact with the Saudis. Vince said it will happen, but he doesn't know when. They were asked about potential WWE Network changes and they are open to anything except the sale of the Network, including licensing. WWE is in constant talks about possibly licensing the Network domestically and internationally. They are also constantly working on international ideas for content. The idea is to develop local content for international territories. There are currently no plans to add advertising to the WWE Network free version but this could change. Stephanie noted that they are testing different technologies that can be applied to different strategies. Salen noted that they are waiting for the return of live events and touring. They still have some employees who are furloughed, which makes for short-term financial cuts, but they are hoping to bring some of those employees back by the end of the year. In regards to if they will have no live events in 2021 or maybe for half of the year and if they will run the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia next year, Salen said they have not commented on the 2021 OIBDA (Operating Income Before Depreciation and Amortization) but they are diligently working on 2021 financial and operational plans with the executive team, noting that she and Khan are still getting settled into the job. She said they will have an update on the strategic focus for 2021 the next time they meet with investors. Regarding the India event planned for 2021, they are seeking the right talents and the right structure so that the event makes sense for all parties involved. This will be with Sony in India. Khan noted that ratings in October have held up despite a "cluttered" fall TV season. When asked if there is anything that NXT does that could be used to improve RAW or SmackDown, Khan praised the blue and red brands for how they have held up. Vince was asked what he and the company needs to see before they are willing to bring fans back to events amid the pandemic. The call President Trump held earlier this year with sports league bosses was mentioned. Vince said he was on that call but that was the extent of his discussions with Trump on the matter. When the coronavirus eases up and it's safe for fans and talents, that's all he can say for now in regards to when fans will be allowed back like normal. They were asked about WWE NXT and the length of the deal with the USA Network. Khan gave props to Triple H and his team, and touted the NXT Halloween Havoc ratings for last night. He said they are comfortable with the position they have with USA, and are enjoying the relationship with the network. The platform has led to many eyeballs on the talent. They don't typically discuss the length of TV deals unless their partners are on board with them doing so, but they feel like this deal is certainly long enough for them to have a long runway for Triple H and his team to grow the product as they have been doing. Khan said they feel good about all three products and how they are headed in the right direction.

August 5, 2020

Nick Khan Heading From CAA To WWE In Powerhouse Move

Nick Khan, the powerful CAA agent, is leaving the agency to take a senior role at WWE. CAA’s former co-head of television has been named President & Chief Revenue Officer of WWE, reporting directly to Chair & CEO Vince McMahon. Khan replaces WWE’s former co-Presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, who left the company in January. A formal announcement will be made later today.

Khan joins the WWE at a time when its business is challenged: Ratings are soft and the pandemic restrictions have brought its live events business to a standstill. In a phone interview, Khan did not talk about specific plans he has for the job. “The first thing I want to do is figure out where the bathrooms are,” he joked. “We all have a lot of ideas in our head. It might be a little premature to share them in terms of when we are going to execute those.”

Khan joined CAA in '12 and quickly became one of the most powerful talent agents in the business, representing on-air personalities like Kirk Herbstreit, Colin Cowherd, Mike Greenberg and Jalen Rose. CAA agents Matt Kramer and Tom Young will take on new roles as co-heads of the agency’s sports broadcasting division. In his CAA role, Khan also represented organizations like WWE, SEC and Top Rank Boxing in their media-rights deals. It was his work in securing WWE’s most recent deals with Fox and USA Network that opened McMahon’s eyes to the possibility of hiring Khan. “While representing WWE at CAA, he was instrumental in transforming our business model by securing domestic media rights increases of 3.6x over our previous agreements,” McMahon said in a prepared statement.

Khan referred to WWE as a “family business” that made him feel comfortable. He referenced a small 50th birthday party he and his wife, IVETTE, were invited to at Paul “Triple H” Levesque’s house last summer. “We looked around the room and said, ‘It’s really kind of them to consider us friends,’” he said. “For a family-run business -- albeit a publicly traded one -- it just felt right. At that moment, I started thinking, ‘I wonder if there’s something bigger and better to do with them.’”

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