WWE's shares Friday dropped 43% following news that the company's new subscription online service won't make up for pay-per-view customer losses until next year. The WWE Network, which costs $9.99 a month, must hit between 1.3 million and 1.4 million customers to make up for lost pay-per-view buyers. "WWE was in the cable network distribution infrastructure and tried to add an incremental over-the-top layer. ... It's a classic transitional battle," said BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield.
Comcast and Madison Square Garden Co. are among the potential buyers for World Wrestling Entertainment if Vince McMahon opts to sell the league, analysts say. "WWE would be very attractive to many different types of buyers," said Robert Routh, an analyst at National Alliance. "What they've built can't be recreated. But without McMahon’s blessing, it doesn’t matter how much somebody is willing to pay for the company."
NBC Universal's USA cable network and World Wrestling Entertainment are expected to announce today that the network will carry "WWE Tough Enough." The pro wrestling series, which was canceled in 2003 by MTV, will return on Monday nights and will be teamed with USA's "Monday Night Raw" program.
Spike TV beginning March 8 will move its "TNA Impact" professional-wrestling series from Thursday to Monday nights. The move sets up a battle royale with ratings magnet "WWE Raw," which runs Monday nights on USA.
UPN has agreed to pay World Wrestling Entertainment less than $500,000 a week to continue airing "WWE Smackdown" on Thursday nights. As part of the deal, UPN will sell advertising time for the show and pick up rights to four WWE specials.