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

WWE has received calls from other companies looking to buy the Sports Entertainment heavyweight, but they are not looking to sell.

WWE President and Chief Revenue Officer Nick Kahn, pictured above with WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, and NFL star Eli Manning at the March of Dimes Sports Luncheon in November, recently spoke with John Orand of Sports Business Journal. It revealed the interest of other companies.

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

Khan has also commented on how Vince sees the company, and he was brought in by WWE a year and a half ago.

“If it was a mom-and-pop store, Vince surely didn’t think it was anymore,” Khan said. “Part of what I think he was looking for in bringing someone in from the outside is making sure that the community as a whole didn’t treat it that way. We think we are a global content company.”

It was noted how Khan not only targeted the broader sports and entertainment community with this push as he felt he needed to change internal attitudes as well. While working for CAA Sports, it was Khan who represented WWE when they sold their media rights to FOX and NBCUniversal. The FOX deal is worth about $1 billion over 5 years, while the NBC deal is worth about $1.3 billion over 5 years.

Khan noted that during the 2018 negotiations, he was shocked by the attitude of some WWE employees, most of whom were not immersed in the intricacies of the media. He said some of them acted as if they were lucky just to get a seat at the table, and were content to negotiate with the executives at the bottom of the chain of command.

Khan said he felt that this business attitude, as well as extensive knowledge of the media market, needed to change in WWE.

“Vince thought WWE was in a position to get a seat at the seniors 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 Khan’s appointment in August 2020. He and Vince have overseen a near-total rotation of WWE’s media department, and the types of media deals have changed, as have WWE cuts, as have the executives who negotiated those deals.

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

“For the company to be treated the way Vince, Stephanie, [WWE executive] “Kevin Dunn and I and others thought he had to be dealt with in the community, I needed CEOs that would reflect that, who had scope, who could get people on the phone and who could be taken seriously by their peers,” Khan said.

Changes to the company have led to a series of moves that demonstrate a changing media strategy in WWE, which includes a new broadcast 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 model for similar international broadcast deals.

WWE has also decided to partner with outside production houses on programming featuring some of its biggest stars. Khan said WWE wants to be in business with every real player.

“We want to engage with everyone who is playing a real role in this field,” Khan said. “Understanding the business — where it is and where it is heading — is an essential part of 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 all-time highs for The Rumble. One of WWE’s newer strategies is to organize events on different nights of the week, which is why SummerSlam and The Rumble have been moved to Saturdays, among other things. WWE credited changing the SummerSlam night to helping the event popularize the biggest portal in its history.

“This is clearly a huge opportunity to increase revenue in the live events space,” Khan said.

Stay tuned for more.

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