WWE CEO Nick Khan is looking forward to WrestleMania 39 weekend in Los Angeles for a variety of reasons — one of which includes the beginning of TV rights negotiations.
Khan also dropped an interesting nugget when it comes to a potential return to pay-per-view if a rights partner was interested.
During an appearance on John Ourand & Andrew Marchand's podcast, Khan said the exclusive domestic TV rights negotiating window with existing partners NBCUniversal and Fox opens up this weekend, giving them "the first bite at the apple" as he put it.
Khan wouldn't put a number on what the company expects for an increase when it comes to Raw (NBCU) and Fox (SmackDown), but Marchand predicted 2x while Ourand thought it would be more than that.
Khan simply said, "I expect a lot" and added a lot of that was up to his work and that of the team at WWE.
Khan said there will be "a lot" of other companies in attendance this weekend, not in an official business capacity but to enjoy themselves. He declined to say who.
A return to PPV?
He said he loves how Peacock has expanded their audience with no upcharge and that Peacock executives would say a "substantial" portion of their 20 million paid subscribers is due to WWE.
But when asked if WWE was open to conversations about following the model ESPN and UFC has with ESPN+ and UFC PPVs, Khan said they were open to conversations and that if, for example, NBCU offered 5x in rights fees but needed to have an upcharge in order to do that, they would listen.
Khan said the most important thing is to not price out their fans, citing that the upper decks for this weekend's WrestleMania are just $25.
Asked about Vince McMahon's involvement in creative, Khan said the executive chairman was "not that involved." He said McMahon has embraced Paul Levesque as head of creative and that they have their own dynamic, "and from my point of view, things have been terrific for the last few months since Vince's return."
With last summer's scandal surrounding McMahon, Khan credited both shareholders and WWE employees with "staying calm" and that, "Fortunately, we're on the other side of it."
Asked if the current undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns has a future in Hollywood, Khan thought he did and that they would fully support that, adding there are a lot of conversations going on. However, Reigns would be staying aligned with WWE if he does make that jump.
He said there are no plans for the popular commentator to be involved or at this weekend's events.
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