Stephanie McMahon was interviewed by CNBC’s Elizabeth Schulze at Web Summit in Lisbon on Tuesday. At the end of the discussion, Schulze asked where McMahon sees the WWE brand 10 years from now.
“10-20-30 years from now, there’s no reason we can’t be as big [as] or bigger than Disney. Now that’s a tall order, especially given recent transactions. However, there’s no reason why we can’t get there. You have to dream big, have big, bold goals, and go after them.”
At press time, WWE’s market cap is $5.8 billion and Disney’s is $172.7 billion, so it goes without saying that this is a wildly unrealistic goal for WWE, unless Disney absolutely crashes into the sewer.
WWE’s business is very strong right now in large part because the world around them changed. Their media rights have been undervalued for years, and FOX’s pivot (facilitated by the sale of the entertainment assets to Disney that Steph alluded to) gave them demand for live sports compared to standard TV. All of a sudden there was a second bidder for WWE’s product, Smackdown is going there, USA had to claw to keep Raw, and WWE’s TV rights tripled.
This has happened at a time where WWE’s television audience has shown steep declines since about 2000. At its peak, Raw was in the 6’s; this past Monday it averaged a .84 for three hours. Now, the TV audience has greatly fragmented and a lot of people’s consumption has moved to streaming, and there aren’t many places on cable to go to a bigger audience than WWE has now, even in its diminished state.
Nevertheless, it’s very difficult to see WWE getting anywhere in the same stratosphere as Disney in my lifetime.