This week an interesting rumor resurfaced that Disney was interested in purchasing the WWE. Disney recently has purchased the rights to the Marvel Universe, Star Wars and 21st Century Fox. They are a major media corporation that is always looking to consume more content to air on one of their many networks or streaming platforms.
One thing Disney knows how to do is take a franchise that is historically beloved and squeeze every dollar out of it they can possibly make. What would happen however if Disney purchased the WWE? The first question to be asked is if they would keep talents as independent contractors or if they would hire all the talents as employees. If they were to do this then the Superstars would finally have access to health insurance through their employer. It should be noted that Disney currently hires independent contractors and could certainly continue to operate the Wrestling business the same way.
Disney World in Orlando is equipped with an 8,000 seat arena called the ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena which could be used to help keep costs low. A big issue with WWE right now are the live event losses and if you can avoid renting out a building and traveling every single week, that can reduce costs. Not to mention the amount of people that go to Disney everyday, as well as, Orlando fans are already used to weekly shows with NXT being at Full Sail.
Disney could also use the WWE brand to help expand theme parks like Hollywood Studios. With the movie studios, big stars, merchandise opportunities and the need for a physical Hall of Fame lots of money could be made. Disney could sell tickets just for a Hall of Fame alone, not to mention the potential of setting up an actual ring, rides and so much more interactive opportunities for fans. The potential here could bring fans closer than ever before, while making money in a way the product has never before. Not to mention that they own their own cruise ships and with the success of Chris Jericho's cruise recently, Disney could do the same thing but own the ship they would run it on.
Disney owns all of ESPN which would be the perfect marriage for WWE programming. ESPN is one of the largest cable providers on all of television and you could co-promote and market much like WWE does with FS1 now. However in this case the ownership would be owners of both ESPN and WWE and you could see even more partnering and marketing. There are also plenty of options for the reality shows to go on and if WWE wanted to air 205 Live they could put it on the Disney Channel for older kids. ESPN Plus is another platform being used for UFC and could house the entire WWE Network library and be used to help sell even more subscriptions to Hulu and Disney Plus in the package deal.
Disney profited over $7.5 Billion in 2019 and certainly has the means and ability to invest even more into media. Especially when the returns are high, some questions would be current contracts the WWE has. Would Disney continue to travel to Saudi Arabia and how would the contracts of Fox and NBCU be affected? Those deals alone are worth $2 Billion over a ten year period. A question to be asked is who would run the business? Would the McMahon's be interested in staying with the company even if they had to answer to a higher power? The other side of that is would Disney be interested unless it included the McMahon's as well?
Finally, what would it mean for other promotions such as AEW, Impact, ROH, MLW and many others? Disney has tons of air time they need to fill each week, while WWE is currently restricted to 9 hours of cable television a week, and a much smaller profit margin, Disney could expand it all. Meaning Disney could run a much more bloated roster, having shows daily even on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN plus, or FX just to name a few. Also a crossover with UFC could be a possibility with the partnership they have with the successful MMA brand. With Disney having much deeper pockets, a need to have content on their television channels and a show that brings in eyeballs likely greater than what they currently have, could be bad for those mentioned above. If we felt like WWE was choking out other promotions before, a Disney led WWE could be an even more extreme version of that.
These promotions would have to begin to overpay for talent or lose stars to the WWE. Not to mention the marketing and advertising machine that Disney is would drive eyeballs to WWE instead of those other promotions. Not to mention the excitement of something new within WWE for the first time in decades. While a potential sale may be the best thing for WWE fans, it could give fans experiences that we could only dream right now. However it could also be the end of the wrestling business outside of WWE as we know it.