WWE's Vince McMahon wants to launch cable network
Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., wants to start its own cable network.
In an interview with Company Town, McMahon said he wants to launch the channel within the next two years and that he will pitch it as a network for the basic tier, which is the hardest one to get carriage on.
Launching a cable network is just the latest push in McMahon's effort to remake the WWE. For years, WWE programming was a tough sell to advertisers and families because of its raunchy nature and sexual innuendo. Now he's pushing a softer, gentler WWE. For more on his strategy, please read our story in today's Los Angeles Times.
Although this may not seem like the most ideal time to try to get a network off the ground, McMahon's WWE has a pretty strong track record that cable and satellite operators will find hard to ignore. Whatever one thinks of WWE content, it does attract a big audience. USA Network's "Raw," for example, averages 5.5 million viewers and all of the WWE's shows on broadcast and cable combined average 16 million viewers per week. WWE is also starting bringing in more blue chip advertisers, including AT&T, Pepisco and Procter & Gamble.
McMahon is also a force on pay-per-view. WWE does about 14 pay-per-view events annually that attract anywhere from 500,000 to 1.4 million buys. In other words, he has some juice with distributors. With a library of over 100,000 hours of programming, he's not lacking for content.
"We have a lot of clout that most people don't," McMahon said. While WWE wants its own network, McMahon said he has no plans to take "Raw" off of USA or move any of his other properties.
"It won't be a threat, it'll be an integration," he said, adding, "it's good for `RAW' to be on USA." Of course, McMahon also knows it will also help him in negotiations with his partners. "Having your own network allows you a lot of leverage."
-- Joe Flint
Photo: WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Credit: WWE