As the markets process yesterday's news of WWE re-upping with NBC-Universal as their television broadcast partner (and they're not taking the news well, with the stock opening at a little more than $11 per share, down from the lofty $20+ heights of a couple months ago), fans are left with few details.
We're still waiting for word on the length and value of the deal, if there are any plans to go live with Smackdown or move it from Friday nights, and when content aired on NBCU properties will be available digitally, either on Hulu or WWE Network.
What we can take from the length of negotiations, the low-key tone of the announcement and the reaction of industry pundits is that WWE probably didn't achieve their dreams of tripling (or more) their rights fees based on the value of their audience size or the "DVR-proof" nature of live events. And that once again falls down to two things:
- Despite the company's efforts to make their product more family-friendly and steer away from controversy, advertisers are still not that interested in partnering with pro wrestling, regardless of the quantitative size of its audience.
- The major factor driving that is that WWE/pro wrestling's audience doesn't have terribly desirable demographics.
- 44% of WWE viewers have attended some college; as opposed to a 66% national average
- Half the WWE audience earned less than $50,000 per year in income; compared to only 30% falling below that number among sports fans in general
- 12 million Americans self-identified as "WWE fans" (versus 16 million for UFC/boxing). This compared to WWE's claim that "62 million US homes have an affinity for WWE")