Friday, September 15, 2023

Endeavor-WWE Deal: A Comparison to Turner Broadcasting System-Jim Crockett Promotions

In April 2023, Endeavor announced that it would acquire WWE in a deal worth $9.3 billion. This deal became official on September 12, 2023 and is the largest ever acquisition of a wrestling company. Endeavor has merged WWE with Zuffa, which was the parent company of UFC, to form media conglomerate TKO Group Holdings. Vince McMahon represents WWE as Chairman of TKO Group Holdings

The Endeavor-WWE deal is big news and it marks a new era in the pro-wrestling industry for the 21st century. It's very similar to another landmark deal that took place in wrestling in the 20th century: Turner Broadcasting System-Jim Crockett Promotions.

In 1988, Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) acquired Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) for $9 million and rebranded it to World Championship Wrestling. This deal was one of the largest acquisitions of a wrestling company during that century. Former owner Jim Crockett Jr. became a consultant in WCW.

There are other similarities between the Endeavor-WWE deal and the TBS-JCP deal. Both deals were between a media conglomerate and a wrestling company, with both deals being a way for the media conglomerate to expand its reach into the wrestling market.

However, there is a notable difference between the two deals. While TBS was not experienced in the combat sports industry prior to its deal with JCP, Endeavor has owned UFC, the largest MMA company in the world, since 2016. So, Endeavor has a lot of experience in marketing and promoting combat sports events at a high level. That combat sports experience combined with the company's resources is likely to make its deal with WWE even more successful than the TBS-JCP deal was. And not only will Endeavor be able to help WWE grow and reach new audiences, but one of those audiences may include the MMA audience. According to digital strategy consulting company Gitnux, WWE has been watched by over 36 million viewers in 180 countries. Meanwhile, researchers estimate that there are more than 300 million MMA fans worldwide. Endeavor could help turn many of them into WWE fans as well.

I'm curious to see what changes will take place in WWE, as in all new ownerships, there is change. TBS' ownership of JCP/WCW saw many people be given new executive roles over the years, such as Jim Herd, Kip Allen Frey, Bill Watts, and Eric Bischoff, with Bischoff's executive role leading to WCW becoming a major competitor to WWE in the 1990s. With WWE already a succesful company with talented employees behind the scenes, will this new ownership lead to new hires who can help take WWE to even greater heights?

Also, a subsiduary of Endeavor is digital video broadcasting and technology company Endeavor Streaming, which has a history of managing WWE Network. Endeavor Streaming can help WWE prepare for the future of wrestling in the age of streaming.

No matter what path this new Endeavor-WWE deal takes, it can't be argued that it will impact the wrestling industry more than any other deal that has come before it.

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