Nick Khan speaks on WWE rights, Vince McMahon creative involvement

Originally published at

Nick Khan spoke about the state of WWE and its pending business deals during an appearance on the Marchand & Ourand sports media podcast.

In advance of WrestleMania 39, the WWE CEO discussed the health of the company following last year’s sexual misconduct allegations against chairman Vince McMahon, the pending domestic rights negotiations, and a potential sale.

Khan said “we’re on the side of it” referring to the McMahon scandal last summer that saw the company head step down from his role temporarily before returning this past January. He attributed the navigation of the scandal to its shareholders and employees “staying calm” throughout the process.

When asked if McMahon is involved with the creative end of the company, Khan stated that McMahon is “not that involved” noting that Paul Levesque was named chief content officer and McMahon respects Levesque’s position and that the two have their own dynamic given their relationship. Stating McMahon is “not that involved” leaves a lot open to interpretation and wasn’t a case of Khan outright dismissing McMahon having his hands in the process, which many have suspected, and various incidents add credence.

There will be key executives in California this weekend among its television partners and outside companies with the first of first-refusal offers being opened this weekend to the incumbents – NBC Universal and Fox.

Khan would not predict a rights increase for Raw and SmackDown but asked the hosts with Marchand predicting 2x and Ourand suspecting higher than 2x. The company’s deals for Raw & SmackDown have an average annual value of $470 million and expire at the end of September 2024.

There are no plans to have Pat McAfee involved in the shows this weekend but praised his work and hope he can do more with WWE. McAfee stepped away from his role on Friday Night SmackDown when the opportunity arose to co-host ESPN’s College Game Day – he made an unannounced appearance at the Royal Rumble in January as a one-off.

On the subject of its premium live events following the UFC pay-per-view model on ESPN+, Khan said if they were offered a hypothetical deal of a 5x increase by Peacock, they would have to take a serious look at it but seemed more theoretical than realistic. The Peacock deal is reportedly worth approximately $200 million per year and a 5x increase would be a gigantic leap.

He ended the chat by speaking about Roman Reigns having a pathway in Hollywood but that the current champion “is staying in with us”.

Khan could not publicly comment on the rumors of a potential sale to the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund but McMahon wants the best deal for its shareholders and the market is “robust”.