CNBC questions Nick Khan on a variety of subjects related to WWE.
WWE CEO Nick Khan joined CNBC’s ‘Closing Bell Overtime’ program for a six-minute chat about all things WWE.
The first topic brought up was the possibility of a sale. Khan shared there has been a ‘robust’ response to the idea of WWE being up for sale and he cannot say who is in the bidding or how many bidders there are, but the company is pleased with what the market is telling them.
I like the direct question on that (where is WWE in the bidding process for a potential sale). Unfortunately, I can’t answer the, ‘Who has been bidding?’ But I can tell you it’s been quite a robust response to WWE, a product that’s been built for over the past 40 years. I think the fan base, the audience that goes with it in over 180 countries, seems to be quite appealing to potential bidders.
I don’t wanna comment on how many or how often or who’s in or who’s not in but, we’re quite pleased with what the market place has told us.
In mid-February, a report from Lucas Shaw of Bloomberg was released which noted that Vince McMahon is looking for $9 billion for WWE, according to those familiar with the situation. Khan reacted to that and said he hopes they can get $18 billion.
Listen, our hope is that the price tag is 18 billion dollars. But, we’ll see. We’ll see if there’s a deal to be finalized. We’ll see if the economics are as shareholder friendly as they can be and then we’d go down that path but we’re not there yet.
Dating back to the summer of 2022, Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque has been leading WWE creative. Khan confirmed that Vince McMahon has not interfered in the creative process but he certainly has thoughts. Khan praised Levesque and the creative team for the job they’ve done.
‘No’ is the answer (Vince McMahon has not been getting more involved in the creative process). Are you gonna be there this weekend at WrestleMania or are you passing on this one? (Khan asked the show host)… Vince has not interfered with creative. He certainly has thoughts, again, that we all try to tap in to pretty often but Triple H, real name, Paul Levesque, is our Head of Creative, he remains our Head of Creative and he’s done a phenomenal job along with our creative team. If you look at the ratings being up across the board at a time when basically, cable and network ratings are down across the board, we’re pleased with what the product is saying to the consumer and what the consumer is saying back to us.
When Vince McMahon was elected back to the Board of the Directors as the Executive Chairman, Stephanie McMahon departed her position as co-CEO.
Khan was asked why Stephanie decided to leave and he mentioned that she was on leave of absence when himself and Vince contacted her about coming back in July 2022. He believes that when Vince came back, Stephanie went back to doing what she was doing during that leave of absence.
Nick remains in touch with Stephanie and would love to have her back at WWE, but is not sure if she is at that point yet.
You know, do keep in mind, Stephanie (McMahon) was on a leave of absence when we called her. It was Vince (McMahon) and I who called her together to ask her to come back from that leave of absence to fill in at the time as the Interim Chairperson. She then became the co-CEO as you just articulated and the Chairperson of the Board. She did phenomenal work across the board and when Vince came back, I think she went back to what she was thinking of doing on the leave of absence. She stepped down, she and I remain in touch. She seems to be in a great place… It’s a question for her (if she’d want to return to the company). We’d certainly always love to have her as a part of WWE but the time would have to be right for her and I’m not sure she’s there yet.
CNBC’s Alex Sherman broke the story about WWE being interested in venturing into legalized betting. Khan credited Sherman for his reporting. He added that those conversations got out and WWE remains optimistic about the possibility of the venture.
Look, Alex Sherman, who broke it (WWE-legalized betting story) for CNBC.com, quite a formidable reporter as you know, so he certainly got his information together for that one as he always does. For us, I’m looking at the future. We think we’re predetermined outcomes. Things like the Grammys, the Oscars, the Emmys which can be bet upon in certain states are also predetermined outcomes so the conversations we’re having, they were always intended to remain private even though those are with public entities. Unfortunately for us, it got out there. We’re managing it as any other company would and we remain optimistic on the whole proposition.
Nick Khan was a topic of conversation on the 3/29 Rewind-A-Dynamite podcast and to watch that clip, head over to our YouTube channel.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit CNBC with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.