NBCUniversal Business Affairs Manager Mik Pandit joined Eric Bischoff during the latest episode of Strictly Business to talk about streaming platforms in the wrestling business. He spoke about WWE’s ability to create good content outside of the ring, which is a spot that AEW needs to work on if they want to succeed.
I would say what I think [WWE] has done very well, that AEW needs to be mindful of is WWE content is everywhere where the consumer is, Pandit said. If you watch broadcast television, they’re on Fox. If you watch cable television, they’re on [the USA Network] . If you stream because you want to see next-day content, for now, they’re on HULU. If you want to watch the monthly pay-per-views, they’re on Peacock. But I think what they’ve done on top of that is the outside-of-the-ring content that has cultivated to the point where the brand remains present in people’s minds who don’t watchwrestling.
“It’s valuable for driving the demographics that might not necessarily watch the in-ring content to the in-ring content. The whole reason Total Bellas, Total Divas, Miz and Mrs. have been on TV so long is because that drives a mainly female viewership to the main content that they didn’t necessarily have. The Andre the Giant documentary that was on HBO was one of the most successful HBO sports documentaries that they’ve done, and now we’ve got two Vince McMahon projects. One which is sold to Netflix, the one which is still looking for another network, but these are all outside the ring ancillary products that do drive revenue and a following to the product and I think that’s something that AEW should be mindful of right now.”
Just last year, Tony Khan and All Elite Wrestling purchased the rights to Ring of Honor Entertainment years eventually going to their new wrestling company. They also took ROH’s video library with them giving them an extra advantage for when streaming takes over TV broadcasting. Pandit is confident that live wrestling will hold more value than a library of content because of its ability to adapt to the times and give wrestling fans what they are looking for, on-demand.
“If the concern for a network is adding subscribers or maintaining subscribers, the live component will always be more valuable than the library content,” Pandit said. “That’s why the live component costs so much more in media rights for the networks to pay for.”
The CEO discussed the Discovery and WarnerMedia merger which will bring new opportunities for AEW. He also teased possibilities of new avenues that AEW could go down in the future to provide their content.
“If you had asked me that question two years ago, I would’ve said you’re probably right, it’s not a natural fit and if I was AEW I would build up as much as possible and hopefully license to Viacom or Paramount,” Mik Pandit said. “There are partnerships in place there but that’s what I would’ve said. Now with Discovery leadership in charge, the answer is we don’t really know how much of that leadership is going to want to still maintain that HBO brand and current spending levels. How many of them are going to say, ‘well, we’re going to pair down our spending a little bit.’ The brand might take a little bit of a hit but it will be offset by the number of subscribers and by how much less we’re spending on content. It’s also been made clear that at some point in the future, they’re looking to make Discovery+ and HBO into one kind of super app where all of that content would be available under one roof. That, to me, is a platform where wrestling and AEW fits.”