We have all heard of Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena, yet none of those Superstars are people you would compare their current star to. All of them took the business to another level, sold tons of merchandise, packed many stadiums and arenas, and made memorable moments in the lives of current wrestling fans, yet none of them can say they have made as much for the company as the WWE's current star. Not I'm not talking about Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, Charlotte Flair, or Drew McIntyre, I'm talking about Nick Khan.
Who is Nick Khan? Nick Khan is a former agent at the Creative Arts Agency (CAA), a leading talent agency that is agents for some of the biggest names in sports. He was also instrumental in WWE’s billion-dollar television deals with Fox. He is a big picture thinker and a guy who is already looking at ways to expand the interest into pop culture and has already made massive financial moves.
We measure WWE stars in numerous ways, one of those is how much money they bring into the company. You hear so many stars talk about being on a card with Hogan or Austin on top knowing that everyone else on the card that night was gonna get paid. You hear about Austin's merchandise numbers from the late '90s and just in awe of the money he brought in. Now WWE has a new corporate star and in his first year, he negotiated a billion-dollar rental of WWE content. That's right, he didn't sell the WWE Network and give away that content, he leased it to NBCU/Peacock for a cool billion dollars over 5 years.
Not only that but we've also now seen him speak on working with pop culture artists and seeing how that is already making strides on television. Here recently Bad Bunny did a performance during the Royal Rumble and now he's on Raw each week with Damian Preist. Early quarter numbers show that Bad Bunny does well in his segments and his YouTube numbers do pretty well also. Ultimately, we'll see if he can bring in new eyeballs of his fans that listen to his music and want to see him in other ventures. This would mean new eyeballs on the WWE product.
Not only have WWE worked with Bad Bunny, but Nick Khan also recently expressed interest in working with Cardi B. One of the hottest acts in all of music right now is Cardi and Khan understands that her following would likely check out her ventures outside of music as well. Having her be part of WrestleMania in some aspect could also get her fanbase to look at the product and have a % of those fans stick around for the long term.
This is quite the change for WWE who over the last decade tended to work with celebrities of the past. Not current high-profile acts in their prime but those who had already moved out of the spotlight. Recently we've seen AEW bring in Mike Tyson decades past his prime as well as Shaq who is now more known for witty humor behind a desk than slam-dunking for the Orlando Magic. The last time WWE did this successfully was likely with Floyd Mayweather who had a high-profile match with the Big Show.
It doesn't seem to be ending with Bad Bunny or Cardi B either, as Nick Khan stated in a call that those things are easier right now without tours happening. He also implied that other names are already in talks as well:
"It doesn’t appear as if there are going to be big tours during the summer, even we’re all hopeful, so we’ll see what other folks we’re talking to and who you’ll see in the mix.”
Everything for WWE right now seems to be focused on, how do we increase the value of our products? How do we attract new eyeballs and focus more on bringing in the younger demographic? The reason for this is likely due to the chief revenue officer of WWE and a fresh vision for the product. Nick was also a significant voice in the latest earnings call. So while we look around and praise all the performers on screen, we appreciate them for all their talents and understand that those who do this at such a high level is in a class all to themselves.
It's already been written about by many financial forecasters that the WWE is set for another jump in TV rights when their next deal is coming up. The common theme with all of them is writing about Nick Khan as a big reason for negotiations to likely go well for WWE. He already has working relationships with Fox, as he works with tons of on-air talents. Also, he negotiated the WWE's current deal with them. He's also now shown he has a working relationship with NBCU as he's just negotiated another billion dollars out of them.
However without a guy like Nick Khan, making moves behind the scenes, generating more exposure, generating more revenue to make these things possible then what does it matter? I have a feeling that Nick Khan will be the most important person for WWE over the next decade as he continues to leverage his relationship and business knowledge to bring in more revenue. My biggest question is, will we even appreciate it?