WWE has put the controversial and ill-advised Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia behind them and has started looking forward to what many fans would consider “Wrestlemania” season, a time when storylines that will eventually culminate at their marquee event begin to coalesce.
However, when it comes to the future, Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon has her sights set on something far bigger than the next Wrestlemania.
Appearing at technology event Web Summit in Lisbon on Tuesday, McMahon sat down for an interview with CNBC’s Elizabeth Schulze. Towards the end of the wide-ranging interview, Schulze asked McMahon where she thinks the WWE brand will be ten years from now.
“10-20-30 years from now, there’s no reason we can’t be as big [as] or bigger than Disney,” says McMahon, “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.”
WWE is certainly in a great position right now. While ratings for their TV shows may vary week to week, and the press coverage they’ve received in recent weeks has been abysmal, the company is about to begin a massive deal that will move Smackdown to Fox. That move is sure to garner the company the mainstream access Vince McMahon has always craved. Between that rights deal and the one at USA Network to keep Raw, the $468 million annual take is more than three-and-a-half times what WWE is making now. The company has also moved into more of an international focus, adding major events in the Middle East and Australia to their already bulging assortment of shows and programming.
But is it all enough to turn a professional wrestling outfit into a corporate entity on par with Disney?
As The Big Lead notes, WWE’s current market cap is $5.8 billion while Disney’s is $172.7 billion. So, they’ve got some catching up to do. There are also a lot of questions swirling around what a WWE audience looks like five or ten years from now. We’ve seen the average age of WWE viewers creep up over the last couple decades, which doesn’t bode well for long-term growth. There are also concerns over the viability of WWE Network and whether or not the company is stretching itself too thin with its programming and demands of its audience. To say nothing of how Vince’s impending second XFL stint is going to affect the company’s reputation.
McMahon is right. In this kind of business, you have to dream big. And WWE is set up to do pretty well in the years to come. But…”Disney good?” In the parlance of pro wrestling, that sure sounds like a work. And we wouldn’t expect anything less from a McMahon.