In an interview with Bloomberg published online on Friday, Stephanie McMahon revealed that her family has thought of selling the WWE. The article, a profile of the chief brand officer and the evolving role of women and minorities in the sport, points out record profits in 2017 - $801 million in revenues, a 10 percent increase. On the subject of a potential sale, McMahon says, “We’ve certainly thought about it. It would be foolish not to.”
Bloomberg cites analyst Brandon Ross, who suggests that Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon are among the most likely buyers. In Friday’s interview, McMahon says, “There was a time when [the WWE] came across as seedy, kind of playing to barroom brawls. Our lines of business are really more akin to Disney than they are to anything else.”
Talk of a sale was most recently strongest in 2016 when the UFC sold for $4 billion, sparking speculation that the value of the WWE could bring in an even higher sale price. That year, Vince McMahon reportedly said in an earnings call that the family would be open to offers, especially the kind “you can’t refuse.” Last December, when it was announced that he was thinking of reviving the XFL, McMahon sold $100 million in WWE stock, leading to a dip in the stock’s value.
This is not the first time that WWE connections to corporations like Disney have surfaced. The Sports Business Journal ran a story in November stating that WWE CFO George Barrios and Stephanie’s husband, Triple H, met with FOX executives earlier last summer as part of a road show where they also met with CBS, Disney, Amazon, and YouTube to discuss WWE programming. In December, Dave Meltzer reported that there is also discussion of FOX possibly buying WWE.
With a growing audience on the WWE Network and media partnerships with organizations like Fox Sports Mexico, the time may be right for a blockbuster sale capitalizing on growing international interest - an idea that is not lost on Stephanie McMahon. Overseas audiences account for 70 percent of WWE viewing, yet only 30 percent of its revenue, she says, “so there’s a big opportunity.”